Kyle Carpenter to Receive Medal of Honor
By Harold Hutchison
During the War on Terror, American servicemen have covered grenades with their own bodies to protect their comrades. Three of them, Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis, Master-At-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, who made the ultimate sacrifice, received the Medal of Honor posthumously. A fourth American serviceman, Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta, controversially received the Navy Cross for covering a grenade in Iraq – with the possibility that he, too, could receive the Medal of Honor.
Like those four heroes, Marine Corporal Kyle Carpenter covered a grenade – only he survived his heroic act. According to media reports, on 21 November, 2010, while he and Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio were standing guard on a rooftop somewhere in Helmand Province, Afghanistan when a grenade was thrown onto the rooftop.
When assistance arrived, they found both Marines were badly wounded. Carpenter had lost his right eye. Hs jaw had been shattered, and most of his teeth had been lost. He also suffered from multiple fractures on one of his arms. Eufrazio had suffered a brain injury that rendered him incapable of speaking. To those who assisted, including Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class Christopher Frend, who treated both Carpenter and Eufrazio, the horrific scene was bad, but there was something else also clear.
Carpenter’s platoon sergeant, Staff Sergeant Michael Kroll, told Military Times “our feeling has always been that Kyle shielded Nick from that blast.”
Frend backed that assessment in a 2012 interview with the Marine Corps Times. “Grenade blasts blow up; they don’t blow down;” he explained. “If he hadn’t done it, what we found would have looked completely different.” Evidence at the scene, including the blast seat – where the grenade detonated – backed that assumption. The blast seat was located right where Carpenter’s torso was.
It has not been unheard of for those who dive on grenades to survive their heroism. During the Vietnam War, Army Specialist Fourth Class John Philip Baca and Gunnery Sergeant Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr. of the United States Marine Corps, both survived covering grenades in incidents that occurred less than thirty days apart in 1970. The following year, Army Specialist Fourth Class Michael John Fitzmaurice survived covering an explosive charge with his flak vest and body. All three men received the Medal of Honor for their heroism.
No date has been announced for when Carpenter will be awarded the Medal of Honor.