The heroic actions taken by Army Sgt. Kyle J. White in Afghanistan seven years ago were rewarded Tuesday when President Obama hung the highly coveted Medal of Honor around White’s neck.
During the White House ceremony, Obama described the scene in 2007 when Smith, who was just 20 years old at the time, helped a fallen soldier after their group came under attack from the Taliban.
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“The platoon returned fire. Kyle quickly emptied a full magazine, but as he went to load a second, an enemy grenade exploded and knocked him unconscious. He came to with his face pressed against a rock. And as he moved to get up, enemy rounds hit a rock just inches from his head, sending shrapnel and rock shards across his face,” Obama said.
“Most of the unit had been forced to slide down the cliff to the valley below. But Kyle saw a teammate — Specialist Kain Schilling — trying to treat his own shattered arm, using a tree as cover — what Kain later called ‘the smallest tree on Earth.’ I’m sure that’s how it felt. Kyle sprinted through enemy fire to Kain’s side and began applying a tourniquet — shielding Kain with his own body as gunfire shredded that tree.”
"The rounds are still coming in left and right, and cracking right past you," White told CBS News
. "The amount of fire that was coming in, you know, I did my job I was trained to do, just like everybody else, and I identified how bad the wound was and tried to treat it on the spot. And the amount of blood I saw, I put a tourniquet on his upper arm and then began to return fire to the enemy."
Smith also helped another soldier, Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks, who was injured by gunfire in the ambush and was out in the open. Smith was able to pull him to safety but Bocks later died.
"I saw him out there, that he was exposed and I said basically 'screw it' and I got up and ran out to him,’ White said of Bocks. “I remember thinking to myself I'm not going to make it through this one, you know, because there's just too much fire, and we're caught on the side of a cliff. This is it. If I'm not going to make it, then I'm at least going to try to help somebody until it happens."
Now an investment analyst in Charlotte, North Carolina, White completed the rest of his deployment in Afghanistan and left the Army in 2011.
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