Afghanistan Vet Who Battled After Grenade Wound Honored

A former U.S. Army staff sergeant who enlisted at age 17 and suffered life-threatening injuries while fighting in Afghanistan was awarded the top U.S. military honor today.

Ryan Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the Medal of Honor who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan. He received the award from President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House.

Obama said Pitts exemplifies the attributes of the young men and women who serve in the armed forces and “perform with so much integrity, so much humility, and so much courage.”

Pitts, from Nashua, New Hampshire, was injured in combat in northeastern Afghanistan on July 13, 2008. His team was transferring forces to a new position when they were attacked by insurgents, according to an Army account. Nine men were killed. Pitts continued to fight after being hit by grenade shrapnel in both legs and his left arm, losing blood and suffering concussions.

“Valor was everywhere that today, and the real heroes are the nine men who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Pitts told reporters after receiving the honor.

Obama, during the ceremony, choked up after reading the names of each man killed and a description about them. He asked their families in the audience to stand and be recognized.

“If not for his ability to be the commanders’ eyes and ears in his critically wounded state, the enemy would have gained a foothold on high ground and inflicted significantly greater causalities onto the main vehicle patrol base, and the enemy could have been in possession of seven fallen Americans,” the Army said in describing Pitts’s actions.

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