He has long been celebrated as a hero in the Marine Corps, but Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter is set to receive the Medal of Honor this afternoon for his heroic and selfless actions in Afghanistan.
In southern Afghanistan in 2010, Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, then only 20 years old, was manning a rooftop with fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio, whom Carpenter calls his best friend. A hand grenade was thrown onto the rooftop, which Carpenter quickly covered with his body in an attempt to save Eufrazio's life.
Carpenter says his only memory of the event is how he felt getting hit by the grenade and how felt right before losing consciousness from the blast. He recalled how he thought he was going to die at that moment.
"I remember very vividly saying over and over that I'm not going to make it, I'm going to die," he told Fox News.
Even though it was difficult to get visual confirmation on what happened on the rooftop, a corpsman's assessment and a post-blast analysis left no doubt that Carpenter had thrown himself onto the grenade.
His wounds were extensive and horrific and, according to others, it's shocking he even survived. He had a collapsed right lung, lost most of his jaw, fractured his arm in more than 30 places, and lost an eye.
Michael Tinari was a lance corporal at the time in Carpenter's platoon and been at Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan when they were wounded. Tinari, after hearing about Carpenter's heroic acts, did not doubt for a moment that it was true.
"When EOD did a post-blast analysis, they said there's no way that he didn't jump on it," Tinari told the Marine Corps Times . "Kyle is probably the most genuine person you'll ever meet…You'll never meet anyone like Kyle Carpenter, I assure you of that."
Carpenter said that he didn't feel like he went above and beyond the call of duty when he jumped on the grenade, only doing what he was trained to do.
"I receive it with a heavy heart. It's a huge honor and I'm very appreciative and I'm very humbled by it, but at the same time there is – not just from Iraq and Afghanistan, but previous wars since this country was founded – there have been those who didn't make it back and those who did make it back and had worse injuries than mine," he said. "Courageous things happen on the battlefield every day and all of us raise our right hand in the exact same way to serve our country."
Kyle Carpenter will be receiving the Medal of Honor from President Obama this afternoon.
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