President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter at the White House on Aug. 26 for his actions during 2009 in Afghanistan. USA Today
Washington-- President Obama awarded U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter
the Medal of Honor on Monday for his heroics in a 2009 battle where he
and 53 American troops fought back against some 300 Taliban fighters in a
valley of the Afghanistan mountains.
Carter became the second soldier to be awarded the highest military commendation for his courageous action in the battle.
this year, Obama awarded Clinton Romesha, a former Army staff sergeant,
the Medal of Honor for leading the defense of the plywood-and-concrete
outpost known as Combat Outpost Keating. Eight U.S. soldiers would die
in the fight for the outpost.
In honoring Carter and Romesha, it
is the first time that two living recipients have received Medals of
Honor for their gallantry in the same battle since Vietnam. Carter also
became the fifth living U.S. servicemember of the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars to receive the honor.
"The outpost was being slammed from
every direction," Obama said in the afternoon ceremony at the White
House. "Machine gun fire, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar, sniper
fire, it was chaos. The blizzard of bullets and steel into which Ty ran
not once or twice, or even a few times, but perhaps 10 times. In doing
so, he displayed the essence of true heroism."
Carter ran low and
fast across an American outpost while overwhelming numbers of Taliban
fighters closed in. He sprinted over ground where he could see bullets
piercing the dust in front of him, gambling on getting ahead of the
shooters' ability to target him.
Carter ran a gauntlet of heavy
machine gun and sniper fire - carrying ammo, recovering a field radio,
cradling a wounded comrade in his arms - sometimes zigzagging to dodge
exploding rocket-propelled grenades or mortar rounds.
wasn't moving through enemy fire in the battle in 2009, Carter and
another soldier made their stand in an all-but-shredded armored vehicle -
a last defensive bastion in a far corner of the fort. Surrounded by
dead Americans and running low on ammunition, they shot and killed enemy
fighters breaching the walls.
"When good men are dying all around you, you have to decide what your last moments are going to be like," Carter told USA TODAY.
"Are you going to die behind something, or are you going to die
standing and firing? Are you going to die pushing forward or falling
Obama also thanked Carter for speaking out about his
battles with post-traumatic stress, and noted that Carter had urged him
to remember another soldier, Ed Faulkner Jr., who fought alongside him
that day. Faulker died in September 2010 after a fatal overdose of
methadone and Xanax.
"Let me say it as clearly as I can to any of
our troops and veterans who are struggling," Obama said. "Look at this
man, look at this soldier, look at this warrior. He is as tough as they
come and if he can find the courage and strength to not only seek help,
but also speak about it ... than so can you."