By Debbie Gregory.
Recently, the White House announced that President Obama will be awarding the Medal of Honor to former Army SergeantKyle J. White for his actions during armed conflict in Afghanistan on November 9, 2007.
Sgt. White was assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, as a radio-telephone operator. White’s platoon was ambushed by a larger Taliban force. During the initial salvo of the ambush, White was knocked unconscious by the blast of a rocket powered grenade.
“There was one shot, you know, down into the valley, and then it was two shots, and then it was full-automatic fire and RPGs … it was coming from multiple directions,” White recalled, as reported in an Army news release.
When he came-to, White realized that most of his Platoon had moved to a safer location and that he was one of only a few left alive in the area. White found Spc. Kain Schilling with a gunshot wound in his arm. White and Schilling were able to take cover behind a tree, where White performed first aid. White needed to utilize a tourniquet to stop Schilling’s bleeding.
White spotted Sgt. Philip Bocks about 30 feet away from his position. Sgt. Bocks was severely wounded and lying out in the open. White made four trips, sprinting through hostile fire before he was able to deliver Sgt. Bocks out of the direct line of fire. Despite White’s valiant efforts, Sgt. Bocks later died of his wounds.
Not long after retrieving Sgt. Bocks, Spc. Schilling was again hit, this time by small arms fire in the leg. White applied his belt as a tourniquet, saving Schilling’s life for a second time.
Later, White spotted his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Matthew Ferrara, nearby. White again, braved the hail of bullets to reach the officer. When White reached his platoon leader, he saw that Lt. Ferrara was already dead. White then crawled back to his position with Schilling.
From there, White began using his radio to call for help. Taliban gunfire blew the radio’s hand-mic out of his hands. The shot disabled White’s radio. White then used Sgt. Bocks’ radio to call in air strikes, artillery, mortars and helicopters to suppress the enemy force. One of the mortar rounds that he called in gave White his second concussion of the battle when it landed too close to his position.
After dark, when it was finally safe enough to do so, White marked the landing zone for friendly helicopters and assisted the air crews with hoisting other Americans and friendly Afghans to safety. It is reported that White would not board the helicopter until everyone else was poised for evacuation.
At the end of the battle, six U.S. service members were dead. There is a good chance that the number would have been higher if it weren’t for White’s actions.
The 27 year old Seattle, Washington native separated from the Army on July 8, 2011. White will be presented with the nation’s highest military honor on May 13, 2014 at the white house.