Heroic soldier to receive Medal of Honor for COP Keating battle

-Clinton_Romesha_244x183The White House announced Friday that on Feb. 11, Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, 31, will receive the highest military award in the nation, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the intense and deadly Oct. 3, 2009 attack on Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan.

Romesha was a section leader in B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during the 12-hour long battle that killed eight American soldiers and wounded 24 others.

The vicious enemy attack is documented in the book, “The Outpost,” by author Jake Tapper, but the Minot Daily News summarized the battle based on information from the U.S. Army. The following account will bring tears to your eyes and fill your heart with pride:

Staff Sgt. Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms.

Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to reconnoiter the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner.

Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds.

Undeterred by his injuries, Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers.

Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter.

While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center. As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy more than 30 enemy fighters.

After learning that other soldiers at a distant battle position were still alive, Romesha and his team provided covering fire, allowing three of their wounded comrades to reach the aid station. While subduing enemy fighters in their path, he and his team pushed forward 100 meters under withering fire, to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.

COP Keating battle
Battle at COP Keating, Afghanistan

According to the White House, “the Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty… [and] must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice.”

Romesha, a husband and father of three, is only the fourth living veteran to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Medal of Honor is a distinguished addition to his already impressive list of military decorations.

“The scarcity of battlefield valor awards has been a sore spot for veterans groups and lawmakers in recent years. Only seven men, including Romesha, have been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan since 2001, and only four have received the award for valor in Iraq,” reported Stars and Stripes.

Romesha left the Army in 2011, and from the bottom of the hearts of every American, we thank you, Staff Sgt. Romesha, and your family, for your heroic, selfless service to our country.

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