Obama presents Medal of Honor to Marine who jumped on grenade


'Your heroism will inspire for generations': Obama presents Medal of Honor to fearless Marine, 24, who lost an eye and part of his jaw when he jumped on a grenade to shield his comrade

Kyle Carpenter shielded his friend from the blast on a rooftop in the Helmand province in November 2010 - and both men survivedHe lost his right eye and most of his teeth, suffered a shattered jaw and broke his arm in multiple places and has undergone 30+ surgeries sinceAs Obama presented him with the award at a White House ceremony, he paid tribute to him as 'the best example of what you want in an American'


He added that Kyle proudly wore his scars as a sign of his service - and admitted they were a hit with womenHe earlier said he is not comfortable with the award, knowing that many of his comrades died or suffered injuries without recognitio

President Obama today presented the Medal of Honor to a Marine who lost an eye and most of his jaw after fearlessly shielding a comrade from a grenade blast in Afghanistan - and told him that his heroism 'will inspire for generations'.

Retired Corporal William 'Kyle' Carpenter, 24, from Flowood, Mississippi, received the nation's top military award in the East Room of the White House,


becoming the eighth living recipient for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.

It comes nearly four years after he threw himself on top of a grenade to save his friend, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, while they stood guard on a rooftop in the Helmand province in November 2010.

'Anybody who has had a chance to get to know this young man, you're not going to get a better example of what you want in an American or a marine,' Obama said at the ceremony.

A hero honored: President Obama presented Retired Corporal William 'Kyle' Carpenter, 24, with the Medal of Honor on Thursday - the nation's top military award - for his service in Afghanistan


Proud of his scars: Carpenter lost his right eye and suffered multiple other injuries when he jumped on a grenade to save a comrade in the Helmand Province in 2010. He has since been fitted with a glass eye

'If any American seeks a model of the strength and resilience that defines us as a people, I want you to consider Kyle... Kyle, you not only saved your brother in arms, you displayed heroism in a blink of an eye that will inspire for generations.'

Carpenter had been in Afghanistan for just five months when enemy forces, hidden behind walls, lobbed three grenades into Carpenter's patrol base.


One of the grenades injured an Afghan National Army soldier, the second did not detonate and the third landed close to Carpenter and Eufrazio.

Carpenter, who was working as a machine gunner, threw himself between the grenade and Eufrazio to shield him. The blast deflected down, with Carpenter absorbing most of the explosion.

'The man you see before you today should not be alive today,' Obama said at the ceremony. 'Hand grenades are one of the most awful weapons of war... If one lands nearby you have mere seconds to find coverage... Up close it's almost certain death.'


Thankful: Obama shakes hands with Kyle Carpenter, 24, after presenting him with the award on Thursday

Proud: Carpenter, who is from Mississippi, smiles as the president gives him a round of applause

Tribute: Obama said Carpenter would wear the medal for others who'd served and who didn't make it back


While Obama has awarded nearly 40 military members with the Medal of Honor, Kyle Carpenter will be only the third Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.


In 2007, Corporal Jason Dunham was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for covering a grenade with his body during an attack in Iraq in 2004. He was mortally wounded but saved the lived of at least two fellow Marines.

In 2011, Dakota Meyer became the first Marine Medal of Honor recipient out of the war in Afghanistan. In 2009, he had ignored orders to stay put and fought his way into an ambush to help rescue three dozen Afghan and American troops and to recover four dead Americans.

Carpenter will become the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient when he is awarded; currently, the title is held by Meyer, who is 25.


Carpenter was conscious in the moments after the explosion and, believing he was going to die, he made peace with God.

'I thought about my family and how devastated they would be that I was killed in Afghanistan and never made it home,' Carpenter told.

'My last thought [was to] make peace with God, because I knew from how I felt and how much blood that I could feel I was losing - I knew that I was not gonna wake up.'

But he did wake up - in a survival that Obama called 'miraculous'.

Eufrazio also survived the attack but the frontal lobe of his brain was seriously injured by shrapnel and it took him more than two years to be able to talk again.


Carpenter was left with life-changing injuries; he lost his right eye and most of his teeth and suffered a broken jaw and arm, which left him heavily scarred.

But Obama pointed out on Thursday that the Marine proudly wears the signs of his service - and even said women loved them.

'I'm quoting him,' Obama quipped during his speech. '"The girls definitely like them". He's working an angle on this thing. I wasn't sure if i was supposed to say this in front of mom,' he said to laughter.

Ceremony: Obama and first lady Michelle walk with Carpenter ahead of the Medal of Honor ceremony


Audience: Mrs Obama joined Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (2nd L) and other officials for the ceremony in the East Room of the White House

But getting to this point has taken years of doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland putting him back together, Obama said.

After the blast, Carpenter was in a coma for five weeks before undergoing more than 30 surgeries, including brain surgery, and being fitted with a glass eye. He spent two-and-a-half years in hospital.


Yet he's not bitter about it.

'I look back and I'm actually very appreciative I had those two and a half years, because those years put things in perspective more than a whole lifetime of things could if I wasn't there,' Carpenter said, according to the Marine Corps.

Before he received the honor, his doctors from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said they had been moved by his stoic recovery from injuries that saw his lungs and heart stop several times.

In a moving video tribute, Debra L. Malone said he never once complained as he battled for his life and always giving 110 per cent during recovery.

Comrades: Carpenter, pictured left in Afghanistan, threw himself on the grenade to protect Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, right, in November 2010. Both men survived but suffered serious injuries