Medal of Honor recipient declines Obama’s State of the Union invite

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Former Army Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha said Tuesday that he has declined President Barack Obama’s invitation to attend the State of the Union speech, which was scheduled for the day after Obama awarded him the nation’s highest military award.

“He has decided to spend the evening with friends from his former unit, Black Knight Troop, 3-61 CAV, [and] his wife Tammy — with whom he celebrates a wedding anniversary Tuesday — and their families,” said a Feb. 12 article by CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

The invitees usually sit beside first lady Michelle Obama and are used to highlight priorities of the the administration. This year, the administration has invited successful immigrants, a lesbian couple, parents of shooting victims, business owners and others that can be used to win sympathy for Obama’s second-term agenda.

Romesha quit the Army after the 2009 battle when he won his award. He now lives and works in North Dakota. “When I called Clint to tell him that he would receive this medal, he said he was honored, but he also said, it wasn’t just me out there, it was a team effort,” Obama said Feb. 11.

Tapper is a friend of Romesha, and recently published a book about the attack, titled, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.”

Romesha earned his Medal of Honor by helping defeat a 2009 Taliban attack on an isolated outpost in the mountains of Afghanistan. The Taliban killed eight American soldiers at Combat Outpost Keating, and Romesha and another 52 U.S. soldiers killed more than 30 of them with airstrikes and machine-gun fire.

Since then, Obama has upped his efforts to make a deal with the Taliban. Taliban leaders have refused Obama’s offers, and have repeatedly declined to break their religious alliance with al-Qaida.

Nonetheless, Obama is intent on withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

The president’s fruitless effort to make a deal with the Taliban was not mentioned during Romesha’s Feb. 11 award ceremony in the White House.

“The Taliban had penetrated the camp. They were taking over buildings,” Obama said just prior to placing the medal around Romesha’s neck at a formal and traditional ceremony in the White House’s gilded East Room. “The combat was close; at times, as close as 10 feet.  When Clint took aim at three of them, they never took another step,” Obama said.

The Army’s description was franker, describing the Taliban as the “enemy,” and highlighting the number of Taliban killed by Romesha and his comrades.

“Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter,” said the Army’s formal citation.

“As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters. … Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, [Romesha’s] team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of their fallen comrades,” the citation said.

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