A grateful nation is honoring a living hero this June.
Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter threw himself on a grenade to protect his friends on Nov. 21, 2010.
He lived, but his wounds were grievous. According to Huffington Post, “he lost his right eye and injured his left, both eardrums were blown, most of his teeth were blown out and much of his jaw was missing. His right arm was shattered, his left arm, wrist and hand had multiple breaks, his right lung collapsed and he had shrapnel wounds in his legs.”
“Upon arriving at Camp Bastion, I was labeled PEA: patient expired on arrival,” Carpenter said in his video Just Getting Started. ”I flat-lined at Walter Reed. People always assume I was in a motorcycle wreck. My response to them: no, Taliban. The enemy killed me; I came back.”
Now, Carpenter will be honored at a ceremony at the White House in June, and will receive the Medal of Honor — the highest award in the military. He will only be the 15th person to receive this award for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Mississippi native doesn’t remember the attack in Afghanistan that almost killed him or what he was thinking when he jumped on the grenade, but he does recall the feeling afterwards.
“I remember my buddies yelling at me, it sounded like they were a football field away,” said Carpenter. “I remember them yelling, you know, you’re gonna make it, you’re gonna make it. And I just kept trying to tell them that I was gonna die…to be honest, I don’t know why I didn’t get that thing and punt it right back to them.”
He woke up at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center six weeks after the attack, and it has taken two and a half years to rebuild his face and save his arm. Carpenter is now a student at the University of South Carolina, and he has been very active after his recovery.
“I ran a marathon, completed a mud run and jumped from a plane,” said Carpenter.
“I will never quit. I am just getting started.”