All News & Blogs
Tom Sileo's op-ed column on The Unknown Soldiers: Be Proud
Courtesy of Daniel Wetzel
Visit the Photo Place
ATLANTA--I was filled with pride during my entire phone conversation with Cpl. Kyle Carpenter. As an American citizen, it makes me enormously thankful that this 23-year-old Marine, who is being considered for the Medal of Honor, is willing to sacrifice so much for others.
Few have the courage to do what fellow Marines said Cpl. Carpenter did on Nov. 21, 2010, in Marjah, Afghanistan. When a grenade landed on the roof of a compound he was helping fortify, squad members said he dived on top of the explosive device to shield a fellow Marine.
"The grenade went off, and I woke up a month later," Carpenter told The Unknown Soldiers. "The next thing I really remember is seeing Christmas stockings on the wall."
Carpenter said he has no recollection of jumping on top of the grenade. But the Gilbert, S.C., Marine does recall the harrowing events leading up to the day he lost his right eye.
"Just imagine what it's like walking through mud and it being hard to lift your feet out, even if you don't have anything on your back," Carpenter said. "On most of my patrols, I would carry 800 rounds on my back--a lot of weight--and the weather is well over 100 degrees."
Carpenter is not seeking accolades or sympathy. He wants Americans to understand what thousands of U.S. troops still stationed in Afghanistan often go through.
"I didn't have a shower for three months," he said.
On Nov. 20, Carpenter and his 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment brothers in arms knew a confrontation with the Taliban was at hand. Carpenter's squad was ordered to transform a local home into an American compound, deep in the heart of a terrorist stronghold.
"It wasn't a matter of 'I wonder if we're going to get shot at today?'" Carpenter said. "It was a matter of 'when was it going to start?'"