Fourth living veteran of Afghanistan war to receive Medal of Honor
By JENNIFER HLAD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 11, 2013
WASHINGTON — Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor in February for his actions as a section leader in Afghanistan in 2009, the fourth living veteran of the war in Afghanistan to receive the award.
Romesha was section leader with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division at combat outpost Keating in Kamdesh district, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3, 2009, when his unit came under heavy fire.
According to written accounts by military historian Richard S. Lowry, enemy fighters launched an assault against the post, attacking from three sides and coming close to taking the ammunition supply point.
Romesha led a counterattack to reclaim the ammunition bunker, Lowry wrote.
Eight soldiers were killed in the firefight, which Lowry said lasted 12 hours.
Romesha, who enlisted in 1999 and left the Army in 2011, deployed to Afghanistan twice and to Iraq four times. He has several military decorations, including a Bronze Star, three Army Commendation medals and five Army Achievement medals.
The attack on COP Keating remains one of the deadliest attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan and is chronicled in the book “The Outpost,” by Jake Tapper. In it, Tapper writes that Romesha is the son of a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cedarville, Calif.
“His parents had hoped he would follow his father into the church leadership, and Romesha had in fact gone to seminary for four years during high school — from five till seven every morning — but ultimately it just wasn’t for him. He didn’t even go on a mission, a regular rite for young Mormon men. Romesha was better suited to this kind of mission, with guns and joes under his command.”
Romesha lives in Minot, N.D., with his wife and three children.
The announcement of his award came the same day Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with White House and Pentagon officials to discuss the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
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.
Leo Shane contributed to this report.