WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will award medically retired Marine Lance Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter the Medal of Honor later this year in recognition of Carpenter’s heroic actions during a November 2010 grenade attack in Afghanistan, according to a Marine Corps Times report, which cited unnamed officials as sources.
Spokespersons for the Marine Corps and the White House would not confirm the status of Carpenter’s case to Stars and Stripes, pending a potential White House announcement.
Carpenter, 24, would be the 10th U.S. servicemember — and the second Marine — to receive the Medal of Honor from the war in Afghanistan.
Carpenter was nominated for the nation’s highest award for valor following reports that he covered a grenade to save the life of his friend, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, during an insurgent attack in the Marjah district of Helmand province as the two Marines were standing guard on a rooftop on Nov. 21, 2010. Carpenter and Eufrazio survived the blast, but suffered severe wounds. Carpenter lost an eye and most of his teeth and shattered his jaw; his arm was also broken in several places.
Damage from shrapnel to the frontal lobe of Eufrazio’s brain left him unable to speak for two years.
The Marine Corps investigation of the incident to determine whether Carpenter deserved the award was complicated by several factors: There were no other witnesses, Carpenter couldn’t remember what happened because of trauma and Eufrazio was unable to speak until late 2012.
But Marines who were deployed with Carpenter told the Marine Corps Times that they believed Carpenter took the brunt of the grenade blast to save Eufrazio because of the nature of the wounds he sustained. Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Frend, the Navy corpsman who triaged the two Marines, said the blast seat of the grenade — which indicates the detonation location — was found on Carpenter’s torso. Frend said Carpenter’s injury would have been different if the grenade had exploded on top of him instead of under him, which suggests that Carpenter smothered the grenade with his body.
In 2011, the state legislature of South Carolina, Carpenter’s home state, passed a resolution honoring Carpenter for his service and sacrifices, citing his reported actions during the grenade attack.
After a long recovery and more than 30 surgeries, Carpenter ran the Marine Corps Marathon last year and posted a time of 4:28:42, according to the ‘Operation Kyle’ Facebook page, which was created by Carpenter’s supporters.
“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.”