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March 10, 2014

Profiles of Valor: Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter

Hero covered a grenade to save a friend – and lived to tell about it.

“William Kyle Carpenter, a Marine Corps veteran who was severely wounded during a November 2010 grenade attack in Afghanistan, [received] the nation’s highest combat valor award,” reports the Marine Corps Times. Carpenter is now medically retired as a corporal, having sustained horrific injuries as a result of his heroic actions.

While serving in the Marjah district of Afghanistan in 2010, Carpenter and his good friend, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, were standing guard on a rooftop when a grenade landed near them. What happened next isn’t entirely clear since there were no witnesses besides the two men, and Carpenter couldn’t remember what happened while Eufrazio sustained brain damage that until nearly two years later rendered him mute. However, the Times reports, “Hospitalman 3rd Class Christopher Frend, who triaged the injuries of Carpenter and Eufrazio, said the injuries Carpenter sustained, and the evidence at the scene indicated that he [Carpenter] had indeed covered the explosive. The blast seat of the grenade – the point of its detonation – was found under Carpenter’s torso.” Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Kroll, Carpenter’s platoon sergeant, said, “our feeling has always been that Kyle shielded Nick from that blast.”

Carpenter lost his right eye and most of his teeth, and the blast shattered his arm and his jaw. His scarred face will be a lasting reminder of the price he paid to save a friend. But he says, “I’m still here and kicking and, you know, I have all my limbs so you’ll never hear me complain.” He even ran the Marine Corps Marathon last year and posted a time of 4:28:42. Carpenter’s medal is the third awarded to a Marine for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

> Update: Carpenter received the Medal of Honor on June 19. “You always hear ‘band of brothers,’ and that’s exactly what we are,” he said. “I’ll say I’m not surprised and no way patting myself on the back, because I know that if you put a thousand Marines in that situation, they would all do the same exact thing for me.”

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