By Debbie Gregory
On November 9, 2007, six U.S. service members lost their lives in an enemy ambush in Aranas, Afghanistan. Killed on that fateful day were Marine Sgt. Philip A. Bocks from Troy, MI; Captain Matthew Ferrara from Torrance, CA; SPC. Joseph Lancour from Swartz Creek MI; Cpl. Sean Langewin from Walnut Creek, CA; Sgt. Jeffrey Mersman from Parker, KS; and Cpl. Lester Roque, Torrance, CA. But if it weren’t for the actions of one soldier, the casualty list could have been much longer.
U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle White was assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, as a radio-telephone operator, and was present during the ambush. A rocket-powered grenade knocked White unconscious during the ambush. When White regained consciousness, he found himself in a desperate situation. Despite the risk of significant danger to himself, White recovered two of his comrades, moved them to cover, and rendered first aid. White also put himself in harm’s way trying to recover other soldiers, only to find that they were already dead. White called in air strikes and artillery that kept the enemy at bay until helicopters could land and recover the ambushed unit. If not for White’s individual efforts, the enemy forces would have likely overrun the location.
On Tuesday, May 13, 2014 Sgt. White will be awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House. White will be the seventh living Medal of Honor recipient from the war in Afghanistan. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military honor. It is awarded for individual acts of valor that go above and beyond the call of duty.
By law, each Medal of Honor recipient is awarded special benefits that include:
- Having their name added to the Medal of Honor Roll
- A lifetime monthly pension (currently $1,259 per month, subject to increases) awarded on top of any other compensation that the recipient receives
- A 10% increase on their retirement pay
- A yearly uniform allowance
- Special entitlements to air transportation provided by the DOD wherever and whenever they want to go
- A Medal of Honor Flag
- Medal of Honor Recipient license plate in states where they are available
- Standing invitation to all future presidential inaugurations and inaugural balls
- The ability to wear their MOH and all medals on appropriate civilian clothing
- The ability to wear their uniform “at their pleasure” in keeping with uniform requirements for proper wear and non-political/noncommercial purposes
- Qualified children of recipients are eligible for all U.S. military academies, regardless of nomination or quote restrictions/requirements
- Automatic eligibility for internment at Arlington National Cemetery
Traditionally, but not required by law, all Medal of Honor recipients are saluted by all other members of the armed forces, regardless of rank. Typically, salutes are rendered from enlisted to officers or from junior officers to their seniors. You can watch Sgt. White receive his medal live at 3 PM E.T. at www.whitehouse.gov/live
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