Marine who lost eye after falling on grenade gets Medal of Honor - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Marine who lost eye after falling on grenade gets Medal of Honor

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON -

A 24-year-old veteran who lost an eye after taking a grenade blast in Afghanistan to save a fellow Marine received the highest U.S. military honor Thursday in a somber White House ceremony.

President Barack Obama walked from the briefing room, where he had just announced plans to send up to 300 U.S. military advisers into Iraq, to the East Room, where he praised retired Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter's instinctive valor and called him a shining example for a post-9/11 generation.

"Carpenter should not be alive today, but the fact that he is gives us reason to trust that there is indeed a higher power," Obama said.

The dual events - Obama's Iraq announcement and the Medal of Honor ceremony - underscored just how much the U.S. is still realizing the human cost of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars the president pledged to end. Under a portrait of George Washington, Obama reflected on the sacrifices young men and women continue to make in the name of safeguarding U.S. citizens and their values.

"This United States Marine faced down that terrible explosive power, that unforgiving force, with his own body, willingly and deliberately, to protect a fellow Marine," Obama said.

The physical toll exacted by his act of heroism offered a sobering reminder of what was taken from Carpenter in the small Afghan village where he was wounded in 2010. Carpenter required almost 40 surgeries and multiple skin grafts, Obama said, leaving him with a prosthetic eye, a new jaw and teeth, and "one hell of a smile."

His face still scarred from his injuries, Carpenter said that as the president placed the blue ribbon around his neck, he felt the history and weight of the nation - from the deadly trenches of World War I to the sounds of his fellow Marines calling for help by radio as they bled in the fields of Afghanistan.

"I accept this honor with a heavy heart," Carpenter told reporters after the ceremony. "Freedom is a powerful and beautiful thing."

Carpenter was barely 21 years old when he was assigned to guard a patrol base in a small village in Helmand province. That's where he and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio were assigned to provide security from a rooftop post, their presence concealed only by a circle of sandbags piled three to four high, the Marine Corps said.

Enemy forces, which had moved in while hidden by walls from a compound across the street, lobbed three grenades into the patrol base. One injured an Afghan National Army soldier. The second did not detonate.

The third landed close to Carpenter and Eufrazio.

Carpenter placed himself between the grenade and Eufrazio to shield him. The blast deflected down, with Carpenter absorbing most of the explosion.

Eufrazio received a head injury from shrapnel. But Carpenter was severely wounded from head to toe, sustaining a depressed skull and a collapsed right lung, among a long list of other injuries.

He was immediately evacuated and required brain surgery to remove shrapnel. His heart flat-lined three times during treatment, Obama said, and all three times doctors managed to revive him.

"You displayed a valor in the blink of an eye that will inspire generations," Obama said of Carpenter's actions during the attack.

A Mississippi native, Carpenter was a patient at a suburban military medical center until his retirement for medical reasons last July.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • WEATHER: Waterspout Spotted Off the Coast of Tybee Island

    WEATHER: Waterspout Spotted Off the Coast of Tybee Island

    Friday, August 1 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:51:17 GMT
    The National Weather Service confirms that a water spout was spotted off the coast of Tybee Island on Friday morning. The Chatham Count Emergency Management agency says the island did activate its outdoor warning system and cleared the beach.At this time, weather reports do not indicated the waterspout will make landfall, but it is recommended to avoid the beach until the storm has passed.
    The National Weather Service confirms that a water spout was spotted off the coast of Tybee Island on Friday morning. The Chatham Count Emergency Management agency says the island did activate its outdoor warning system and cleared the beach.At this time, weather reports do not indicated the waterspout will make landfall, but it is recommended to avoid the beach until the storm has passed.
  • Screams, panic caught on video as shark charges at swimmers near beach

    Screams, panic caught on video as shark charges at swimmers near beach

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:48:04 GMT
    Facebook image from Dan FlynnFacebook image from Dan Flynn
    A Florida beach cleared out – with the exception of a woman and lifeguard who tried to save her – when a shark was spotted heading straight toward swimmers on Tuesday afternoon. The panic of the 10-foot shark and people screaming from the pier was caught on tape.
    A Florida beach cleared out – with the exception of a woman and lifeguard who tried to save her – when a shark was spotted heading straight toward swimmers on Tuesday afternoon. The panic of the 10-foot shark and people screaming from the pier was caught on tape.
  • Bikini-clad mom of 5 writes viral letter to bullies who mocked her stretch marks

    Bikini-clad mom of 5 writes viral letter to bullies who mocked her stretch marks

    Friday, August 1 2014 4:17 PM EDT2014-08-01 20:17:45 GMT
    Tanis Jex-Blake Facebook page photoTanis Jex-Blake Facebook page photo
    A mother of five who was mocked for her stretch marks while sunbathing at the beach has written an open letter to the trio who bullied her. That letter has now gone viral with more than a million likes and 218,000 shares.
    A mother of five who was mocked for her stretch marks while sunbathing at the beach has written an open letter to the trio who bullied her. That letter has now gone viral with more than a million likes and 218,000 shares.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.