May 14, 2014

Profiles of Valor: Army Sgt. Kyle White Receives Medal of Honor

White’s actions in Afghanistan were exemplary and heroic.

Former U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle White received the Medal of Honor Tuesday for his heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2007. White’s unit of 14 U.S. troops and several Afghan National Army soldiers was ambushed by Taliban fighters on Nov. 9, 2007, leaving five soldiers and one Marine dead. He is the seventh living service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. Seven others received the award posthumously, including all four recipients for actions in Iraq.

Army Times reports, “White, then a specialist with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, is being honored for repeatedly running the gauntlet of enemy fire to get to the wounded and fallen. When the shooting stopped and night fell, White, who was barely 20 years old, cared for his wounded brother, called in steady radio reports, directed security and guided in close-air support until the medevac birds were able to come and evacuate the wounded and the dead.” He said his bravery was due to his surety of death: “I told myself from the beginning that I was going to be killed.” If he was going to die, it was going to be helping his fellow soldiers.

As the patrol wound its way through Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, they rounded a bend and, White says, “the whole valley lit up. RPGs were coming from it seemed like everywhere.” After emptying a full magazine and loading a second, White was knocked unconscious by an RPG. When he came to, he resumed fire on the enemy and aided one wounded comrade after another. As he was attempting to call for help, “a round when through the hand mic and blew it out of my hands,” he said.

Every American on that patrol was either killed or wounded. White lost his best friend, Sean Langevin, that day. Army Times notes, “Fourteen soldiers were awarded the Purple Heart, one the Distinguished Service Cross, one the Silver Star, four the Bronze Star with V device, and two the Army Commendation Medal with V device for their actions that day.” White retired in 2011.

Typical of the humility of our Patriot warriors, White said, “I do not consider myself a hero. To me, the real heroes are the ones I fought with that day.” He added, “It wasn’t just me on that trail. It’s everyone who was there. It’s their award. One of the responsibilities I feel is being a voice for those we lost, making sure their names are known and their stories are told.”

We too honor the dead: Army 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara (platoon leader), Sgt. Jeffery S. Mersman, Spc. Lester G. Roque, Spc. Sean K. A. Langevin, Pfc. Joseph M. Lancour and Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks.

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