President Barack Obama awarded the nation’s highest military decoration to an Army veteran for his leadership during an attack by Taliban fighters on a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan in 2009.
Former Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha, 31, is the fourth living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven others have been awarded the medal posthumously.
Romesha and the rest of his troop faced “almost unbelievable conditions” in one of the most remote U.S. posts in Afghanistan, one that a military report described “tactically indefensible,” Obama said at a White House ceremony today.
“These men were outnumbered, outgunned and almost overrun,” the president said. “Our troops should never, ever, be put in a position where they have to defend the indefensible.”
Romesha was a troop section leader in the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division. At 6 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2009, his outpost in the Kamdesh district of Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province came under attack. Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in the firefight.
In a daylong battle, despite his own wounds, Romesha killed enemy fighters, recovered fallen soldiers and led operations for recovery, resupply and counterattack while under fire, according to the official account. He is credited with killing more than 10 enemy fighters himself, an estimated 30 more with indirect fire or air support and leading other U.S. troops to kill at least five more.
“His heroic actions allowed B Troop to reconsolidate on the combat outpost and enabled him to lead the counterattack that secured” the outpost, according to the Army’s official narrative.
Romesha, who served two earlier tours of duty in Iraq, left the Army in 2011. He lives in Minot, North Dakota, with his wife and three children and works for an oilfield construction company.