Posted by: bkivey | 11 February 2013

Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha

On 11 February 2013, Clinton L. Romesha, a former Staff Sergeant in the US Army, was awarded the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony for actions he performed on 3 October 2009. Due to the nature of the Medal, many awards are made posthumously, and Mr. Romesha joins a mere 80 living recipients.

To be considered for a Medal of Honor,  an individual must display “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their life above and beyond the call of duty”; no mean feat in an organization where risking life is part of the job description and whose values include:

  • I will always place the mission first.
  • I will never accept defeat.
  • I will never quit.
  • I will never leave a fallen comrade.

The citation for Sgt. Romesha’s actions is written in bureaucratic style that, while accurate, doesn’t really convey the visceral impact of what transpired that day. A much better feel can be gained from this slide show giving a blow-by-blow account of the battle. The slide captions are in the detached style of the professional soldier, but they describe an individual who was actively managing the battlespace. If you think management is challenging, try doing it while 300 – 400 people are trying to kill you.

Some excerpts from the captions:

“Moving through an open and uncovered avenue that was suppressed with a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire,”

“Romesha engaged multiple enemy positions on the north face, including a machine gun nest and sniper position. While continuing to expose himself to heavy enemy fire, Romesha engaged the enemy positions until they were no longer effective.”

“Enroute to that location, he saw three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s outer perimeter and were moving toward the laundry trailer. With a sense of calmness that inspired his Soldiers, Romesha engaged and destroyed the three targets with the Dragunov rifle”

“Calling grid coordinates to these locations, Romesha enabled the critical 120mm mortars and air support to drop onto enemy positions. As a result, more than 30 enemy forces were destroyed and Romesha and his men were able to hold the entry control point.”

“Romesha provided an overwhelming amount of covering fire to allow Sgt. Bradley Larson, Spc. Ty Carter, and Pfc. Stephan Mace, who was seriously injured, to withdraw from a previously pinned down location.”

“Under overwhelming enemy small-arms fire and RPG fire, with little support or covering fire, Romesha’s team pushed through 100 meters of enemy fire with few covered positions along the way. Upon arriving at the objective, they evacuated the bodies of three American heroes, Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos, Spc. Christopher T. Griffin, and Sgt. Vernon W. Martin.”

This was one man. One man who did things that even most people in the military would be hard-pressed to emulate. One man who now works for an oilfield construction company in North Dakota.

Whatever one thinks of American military overseas operations, or the US military in general, one cannot deny that this is one badass mofo. The US Army has been kicking ass and taking names for 238 years, and SSGT. Romesha has done his part to uphold the tradition.

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