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I’ve always been of the opinion that all the men and women who have served overseas are heroes in one way or another. However, some stand out among the rest. Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter is one of those distinguished few. He will soon receive our nation’s highest decoration for valor, which is the Medal of Honor.
While serving as a Marine in Afghanistan in 2010, Carpenter did something absolutely incredible. He and another Marine were standing guard on a rooftop when insurgents lobbed a grenade their way. Reacting quickly, then Lance Corporal Carpenter placed his friend’s safety above his own and jumped on the grenade.
He could have sought cover or moved out of the way, but instead, Carpenter, ready to sacrifice himself for his friend, took the brunt of the grenade’s blast with his own body. According to the Navy corpsman who treated Carpenter and Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio, Carpenter’s friend, Carpenter’s wounds were indicative of a direct blast to the torso. Not only did he put his body in between the grenade and his fellow Marine, but he literally put his vital organs right on top of it.
Miraculously, both Carpenter and Eufrazio survived the grenade’s explosion. However, both men received very serious injuries. Carpenter lost an eye to the blast, as well as almost all of his teeth. He also had his jaw shattered and suffered several fractures in his arm.
Carpenter, now a full-time student and member of Kappa Sigma at the University of South Carolina, was retired from the Marine Corps last year as a result of his wounds. However, he did not let his medical retirement get in the way of his love for corps and country. Last year, he ran all 26.2 miles of the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:28:42. If he wasn’t incredible enough, he overcame his wounds to attain a great athletic accomplishment.
Today, Cpl. Carpenter continues to serve as an inspiration to Americans and freedom-loving people all across the world through his story and messages, such as this one below, via Stripes.com:
“It’s hard to comprehend that three years ago today my life and body was torn apart by an enemy hand grenade on a hot dusty rooftop in Afghanistan,” Carpenter wrote on the Operation Kyle page last year, on the third anniversary of the attack.
“At times it has felt so long ago and yet, when I close my eyes, I can still feel the warm blood pouring out of me onto my skin and fading out of consciousness with my the final thought of “I’m going to die” in my head …
“And here I am. I just want to thank and remind all of you how much it means and how truly appreciative I am for every comment, message, word of encouragement and prayer you have sent my way since that day in November 2010. You have helped get me to where I am today and for that I will be forever grateful. It took a life changing event to get me to truly appreciate the precious and amazing life I have been blessed with.
“Please take it from me … enjoy everyday to the fullest, don’t take life too seriously, always try to make it count, appreciate the small and simple things, be kind and help others, let the ones you love always know you love them and when things get hard, trust there is a bigger plan and that you will be stronger for it.”
For his actions, Cpl. Carpenter will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at the White House on June 19. In my opinion, and in the opinion of a grateful nation, he embodies everything it means to be a true hero.