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Obama presents top medal to Afghanistan veteran Kyle J. White

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It could have been over for Kyle J. White just 30 seconds into the Taliban ambush, when a rocket-propelled grenade knocked him unconscious.

But he came to and by the time the four-hour firefight in Afghanistan was over, White, reeling from concussions and shrapnel in his face, had saved one comrade's life and helped secure the evacuation of other wounded Americans.

On Tuesday, White became only the seventh living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, the latest reminder of the post-Sept. 11 conflicts and U.S. sacrifices President Barack Obama has sought to bring to an end

"We pay tribute to a soldier who embodies the courage of his generation," Obama said.

With the medal, White, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome after the ambush, also draws attention to the recent scrutiny confronting the Veteran's Affairs health care system and allegations of lapses in care and delays in mental health treatment.

Though Obama did not mention the VA controversies specifically, he told White: "You did your duty, and now it's time for America to do ours: after more than a decade of war, to welcome you home with the support and the benefits and opportunities that you've earned."

Following the ceremony, White, 27, said the valor belonged to all the members of his platoon that day.

"Battles are won by spirit," he said. "Without the team, there can be no Medal of Honor. That's why I wear this medal for my team."

An Army account of the attack says White, then a 20-year-old Army specialist, and his team of 14 U.S. troops, along with Afghan National Army soldiers, were ambushed Nov. 9, 2007, after attempting to hold a meeting with village elders in the village of Aranas in Nuristan province.

After regaining consciousness from the grenade hit, White found his platoon split by the ambush. Half the team had slid down the cliff for cover. He remained atop with three dead, dying and wounded comrades.

Left at the top with White were platoon leader 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, Spc. Kain Schilling, Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, who was imbedded with the group, and its interpreter. White set about trying to assess the condition of his fellow soldiers, running and crawling through gunfire only to find Ferrara dead and Bocks badly wounded. Though he tried to stop Bocks' bleeding, the Marine later died.

Obama described the drama to an East Room audience of service members, family and White House staff:

"Across Afghanistan, base commanders were glued to the radios, listening as American forces fought back an ambush in the rugged mountains. One battalion commander remembered that all of Afghanistan was listening as a soldier on the ground described what was happening.

"They knew him by his call sign, Charlie-1-6-Romeo. We know it was Kyle, who at the time was just 20 years old and only 21 months into his military service."

Though suffering from concussions, White treated Schilling's injuries under the shadow of a lone tree and used one of the unit's radios to call for help. When a helicopter arrived after nightfall, White only allowed himself to be evacuated after the wounded were assisted.

Schilling attended White's Medal of Honor ceremony.

White retired from the Army in 2011 as a sergeant. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte with a finance degree, and he now works as an investment analyst at a bank in Charlotte.

"Kyle will tell you that the transition to civilian life and dealing with the post-traumatic stress hasn't always been easy," Obama said. "More than six years later, he can still see the images and hear the sounds of that battle. Every day, he wakes up thinking about his battle buddies."

Later, White said he and Schilling wear identical bracelets.

"On it are the names of my six fallen brothers," he said. "They are my heroes."

Join the discussion

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insearchofmn May 15 2014 at 12:05 AM

Once again, the sickening republicans come out to wage their stupid agenda.

First off, there is no right or wrong way to salute. It's a ******* protocol that people with too much time on their hands decided was the right way, just like someone decided what the damn speed limit should be.

But if Obama did salute with the "wrong hand" so what? Every military person has done this at some point? Are you going to condemn them? None of you republicans really care about military people anyway, except for when they're getting you oil.

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5 replies
mlaurel58 May 14 2014 at 6:46 PM

First, I am a long-time conservative, Vietnam combat vet, with a USMC, WWII dad, and a two tour Iraq vet son....that said, there are times the President speaks for all Americans, regardless of politics, and decorating a brave soldier is one of those times. The C in C has the responsibility to do this, and doesn't deserve the silly and insulting comments some of you are making.

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4 replies
jongambee May 15 2014 at 12:32 AM

I am a former Marine who served two tours in Vietnam. I am a PH recipient. Yes, this man is a hero and deserving of the MOH. Congratulations to him and prayers for his comrades. I, too, suffer from PTSD and hope that this award helps bring attention to the plight of so many veterans. Do you know that while more than 58,000 soldiers died in Vietnam, more than 150,000 have committed suicide since that terrible war ended? The divorce rate among veterans is more than 90%. Coincidence? I don't think so. Wake up America and come to the aid of the veterans who put their lives on the line for you and yours.

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2 replies
coyoteb1 jongambee May 15 2014 at 12:59 AM

Sad to say, but the advent of our "professional military," gives civilians the ability to turn their backs on our veterans. They no longer see our veterans as "citizen soldiers" but as professionals and mercenaries, instead of men and women who serve for patriotic reasons. Solution? Bring back the draft. People need to participate in Democracy, which includes, if necessary, fighting and dying to protect it. It makes Democracy actually mean something precious to young people who have served. I served, I am proud that I served, and I love this country and feel I earned my participation in it.

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Jennifer jongambee May 15 2014 at 1:46 AM

My mom woke up many a nights being choked by my dad while he was having one of his nightmares after coming back from Vietnam. I have seen him crawling on the floor with a knife in his mouth in the middle of the night....I never questioned it....just respected it.

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ajafullmn May 14 2014 at 6:44 PM

Hero's don't wear capes, they wear dog tags and uniforms.

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LL May 14 2014 at 6:43 PM

I salute this young man, and all who have risked their lives for me and my nation !!!

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joe May 14 2014 at 6:41 PM

In about a week the kid will get a bill from Obumma for the award.

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2 replies
lebcf joe May 14 2014 at 7:04 PM

O.K. - you've made your stupid comment now - back to Fox noise and AM radio to get another talking point.

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1 reply
b515 lebcf May 14 2014 at 7:23 PM

Al Sharpton is on lib..I mean leb.

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John joe May 14 2014 at 7:10 PM

Joe....go back and eat your ginger bread cookie, your mother poured you a nice glass of milk too.

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2 replies
b515 John May 14 2014 at 7:23 PM

Did you really think that was clever?

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joe John May 14 2014 at 7:43 PM

Eagles are going to suck this year, Sorry.

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ga7smi May 14 2014 at 6:41 PM

political grandstanding

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1 reply
ajafullmn ga7smi May 14 2014 at 6:45 PM

focus on the hero, not your political views.

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ricks1951f1 May 14 2014 at 6:40 PM

Kyle J. White well done soldier I salute you!

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oncebanned May 14 2014 at 6:39 PM

Obama, once again, showboating as he does not like nor support the Military, rather he fires Generals for miniscule offenses. I'm sure White deserves the medal, but it's awarding is diminished by the presence of Obama. Am I an Obama hater? No! Just embarrassed.

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2 replies
ajafullmn oncebanned May 14 2014 at 6:46 PM

what is the matter with you people. this story is about a war hero. do your politics somewhere else.

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jebocc oncebanned May 14 2014 at 7:15 PM

Nope you are a certified hater.

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bert hall May 14 2014 at 6:48 PM


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