Marine’s sacrifice won him Medal of Honor but his story will win over your heart

Marine Lance Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter came back from Afghanistan two and a half years ago but found out Monday he will be receiving the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony next month, reported USA Today.

Carpenter spent the last couple of years recovering from serious wounds he received as a result of placing himself between a grenade and fellow Marine. The experience, he said, noting the long-term recuperation, is been the best thing to ever happen to the brave soldier.

“Those two-and-a-half years put things in perspective for me more than an whole lifetime of things,” Carpenter told USA Today. “I guess if I look at it that way I’m very thankful for Afghanistan. It really means a lot to me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

In November 2010, Carpenter and his unit, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, were holding near Marjah, Afghanistan. His unit had experienced a tough day of Taliban attacks Nov. 20, which left two Marines injured.

On November 21, Carpenter, then 21 years old, and Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio were posted in a rooftop observation deck of a makeshift command center building.

Small-fire exchanges escalated and, when a grenade was thrown onto the roof, Carpenter said his first and only instinct was to protect his younger partner.

“I loved him like a brother,” Carpenter said, noting a core value in the Marines, “taking care of junior Marines before yourself.”

He jumped between the grenade and Eufrazio, taking the blunt of the explosion and receiving critical injuries that he continues to recover from.

Carpenter did not think he would be able to survive as he lay there that day.

“I felt like warm water was being poured all over me from the blood coming out,” Carpenter said.

Just as his fellow Marines came to rescue him, he blacked out.

In the two-and-a-half years at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Carpenter has been through countless surgeries and medical procedures to initially save his life and improve the quality of it.

He lost his right eye, both eardrums, the majority of his teeth and shattered his right arm as a result of the explosion.

Additionally, most of his jaw was missing, his right lung collapsed and he had shrapnel thrown into various parts of his body.

The Marine, now 24, deems himself “fully recovered,” even telling USA Today he ran a marathon last year and has tried sport parachuting.

Being around his Marine brothers at the hospital created an atmosphere that contributed to his recovery. He recalled feeling his spirit brighten as he would walk into the cafeteria for breakfast and, although the men and women were injured — some even in wheelchairs, the camaraderie was the same as in battle.

“The best time of being a Marine was Afghanistan,” he said. “There will never be a time when I’m sleeping in the dirt and I haven’t showered in four months and I’m with 50 of the people that I’ll be the closest with ever.

Carpenter is enrolled as a student at the University of South Carolina and considering a psychology major. His ceremony is set for June 19.


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