That morning, Kyle said, “our alarm clock was AK-47 fire.” Some of the men were by their bunks, gearing up for another day. Some were heating up their MREs. Some were in makeshift ops centers -- a simple mud building -- planning the day’s patrols. And up on the roof, behind a circle of sandbags, two Marines manned their posts -- Kyle, and Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio.
The compound started to take fire. Seeking cover, Kyle and Nick laid down low on their backs behind those sandbags. And then the grenade landed with a thud, its pin already pulled. It was about to explode.
And Kyle has no memory of what happened next. What we do know is that there on that rooftop he wasn’t just with a fellow Marine, he was with his best friend. Kyle and Nick had met in training. In Afghanistan they patrolled together, day and night, a friendship forged in fire. Kyle says about Nick, “He was my point man, and I loved him like a brother.”
When the grenade landed, other Marines in the compound looked up and saw it happen. Kyle tried to stand. He lunged forward toward that grenade, and then he disappeared into the blast. Keep in mind, at the time, Kyle was just 21 years old. But in that instant, he fulfilled those words of Scripture: “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
They found Kyle lying face down, directly over the blast area. His helmet was riddled with holes. His gear was melted. Part of his Kevlar vest was blown away. One of the doctors who treated him later said Kyle was “literally wounded from the top of his head to his feet.”
And for a moment, Kyle was still conscious. His eyes were open but he couldn’t see. Kyle remember “everything went white.” And yet, even then, his thoughts were not of himself. One of the Marines who was there remembers how Kyle kept asking one question, and that was whether Nick was okay. And then, as Kyle’s strength drained away, he sensed the end was coming. So according to Kyle’s memories, “My last thought [was to] make peace with God. I asked for forgiveness. I was trying to make the best and most of my last few seconds here on Earth.”
The Medal of Honor is presented for gallantry on the battlefield. But today, we also recognize Kyle Carpenter for his valor since in the hard fight for recovery. Eventually, Kyle woke up after five weeks in a coma. I want you to consider what Kyle has endured just to stand here today -- more than two and a half years in the hospital. Grueling rehabilitation. Brain surgery to remove shrapnel from his head. Nearly 40 surgeries to repair a collapsed lung, fractured fingers, a shattered right arm broken in more than 30 places, multiple skin grafts. He has a new prosthetic eye, a new jaw, new teeth -- and one hell of a smile. (Laughter.)
And Kyle is the first to give credit elsewhere. His doctors at Bethesda, he says, “put me back together well.” Today is also a reminder that in past wars, somebody with injuries as severe as Kyle’s probably wouldn’t have survived. So many of our wounded warriors from today’s wars are alive not just because of remarkable advances in technology, but primarily because of the extraordinary dedication and skill of our military and our VA medical professionals.
So we need to keep doing everything we can in our power to give our wounded warriors and those who treat them the support that they need. And I think this is a wonderful opportunity to ask doctors Debra Malone and Lauren Greer, and the rest of Kyle’s medical team who are here to please stand. I see their amazing work every time I visit Bethesda, every time I visited Walter Reed. It’s pretty rare where you’ve got a job where you just know you’re doing God’s work every single day. And they do an incredible job, so thank you. (Applause.) Thank you for the miracles you work for our wounded troops and veterans.
Now, Kyle says he’ll wear this medal for all who serve and for those who didn’t make it back, and for those who struggle still. So today, we also honor two members of his team who made the ultimate sacrifice in that deployment: Kyle’s friends Lance Corporal Timothy M. Jackson of Corbin, Kentucky, and Lance Corporal Dakota R. Huse of Greenwood, Louisiana.