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Old 01-11-2013, 21:52   #1
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Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha

Afghan battle hero Clinton Romesha to receive Medal of Honor

By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

An Army sergeant who ignored his battle wounds to take out the enemy, rescue the injured and retrieve the dead during an ambush by 300 fighters in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, 31, who has since left the military, will be only the fourth living service member awarded the nation's top honor for courage in Iraq or Afghanistan.

His citation says he is being recognized for "acts of gallantry and intrepity" when fighters attacked Combat Outpost Keating from all sides with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars and rifles on Oct. 3, 2009, igniting a daylong battle.

Romesha, a father of three, rousted reinforcements and then engaged in battle with the help of an assistant gunner. After taking out one machine-gun team, he set his sights on a second and suffered shrapnel wounds when a grenade hit a generator he was using for cover.

"Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers," the citation says.

"With complete disregard for his own safety, (he) continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets."

At the same time, Romesha was orchestrating a plan to secure key points of the battlefield — and directing air support to knock out a band of 30 heavily armed fighters who were attacking "with even greater ferocity."

He and his team also provided cover so that three wounded soldiers could get to an aid station, then "pushed forward 100 meters under withering fire, to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades."

Eight soldiers were killed in the battle, chronicled in the book "The Outpost," by journalist Jake Tapper, who described Romesha as "an intense guy, short and wiry," the son of a Mormon church leader who had attended seminary before joining the military.

Romesha, according to the book, never lost his cool — playing "peekaboo" with a sniper so he could get a bead on him, smiling as bullets ricocheted around him.

'He's always been a good kid' Romesha’s father, Gary, said his son called him with news of the medal on Friday.

“I thought it was great. But I’m more thankful he is able to receive it on his own and it’s not given to us after he is dead,” he said.

The father of five, a Vietnam veteran, said all three of his sons went into the military.

“I tried to talk to my children. I told them, just don’t go into the infantry, do something where you get skilled. But they didn’t listen to me. They all went into the infantry,” he said in a phone interview from his home in small-town northern California.

He said he wasn’t surprised to hear about his son’s battlefield heroics.

“He’s always been a good kid,” he said. “But I think any of my children would have done the same thing.”

Romesha enlisted in the Army in 1999 and completed two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was a section leader with B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division when the outpost came under fire.

Though the U.S. soldiers were greatly outnumbered, they stopped the Taliban from overrunning the outpost after Afghan troops and guards reportedly fled.

President Obama, who announced the award during a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, will present Romesha with the Medal of Honor at the White House on Feb. 11.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:36   #2
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Military Times article on the action.

Hero of COP Keating battle to receive MoH
MilTimes, 11 Jan 2013

A former staff sergeant who helped repel one of the largest, most vicious battles against U.S. forces in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

Clinton L. Romesha, 31, will be the fourth living service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven other service members have posthumously been awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in those wars.

Romesha will be awarded Feb. 11 at the White House.

Romesha was a section leader in B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during the Oct. 3, 2009, attack on Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan.

Eight American soldiers were killed and two dozen others wounded in the battle as the troop-sized element fought against an overwhelming enemy force that launched a brazen attack to overrun the COP.

The attack on COP Keating remains one of the deadliest attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan and is chronicled in the book “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper.

Several other soldiers at COP Keating that day have been honored for their actions. According to Army Times’ reporting and “The Outpost,” at least nine soldiers — including the platoon leader who ran operations that day and the physician assistant who treated numerous casualties and gave his own blood to keep one of his patients alive — were awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor.

In “The Outpost,” Tapper outlines Romesha’s unwavering courage and determination as the vastly outnumbered American troops and their Latvian partners battled an enemy force numbering more than 300.

Romesha is described as intense, short and wiry.

“The son of a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church in Cedarville, California … his parents had hoped he would follow his father into the church leadership, and Romesha had in fact gone to seminary for four years during high school — from five till seven every morning — but ultimately it just wasn’t for him. He didn’t even go on a mission, a regular rite for young Mormon men. Romesha was better suited to this kind of mission, with guns and joes under his command.”

At 5:58 a.m. Oct. 3, 2009, the enemy launched its attack from all four sides of the small COP, which was nestled in the bottom of a valley surrounded by towering mountains.

About 50 American, 20 Afghan and two Latvian soldiers were stationed at COP Keating, along with about a dozen Afghan Security Guards. Nearby, the 19 American and 10 Afghan soldiers at Observation Post Fritsche also came under heavy fire.

Firing a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns and rifles, the enemy quickly wreaked havoc on the two positions.

In two minutes, the first U.S. soldier was killed as the enemy targeted the COP’s mortar pit and pinned down the soldiers at OP Fritsche, preventing them from providing supporting fire to COP Keating.

The Afghan troops and security guards reportedly quickly abandoned their posts, leaving the Americans and Latvians to fight alone.

During the first three hours of the battle, mortars hit the COP and OP every 15 seconds, and in less than an hour, the enemy swarmed the COP, breaching the Afghan army side of the compound. The enemy eventually set fire to the small outpost, destroying almost 70 percent of it.

Romesha and his fellow soldiers immediately fought back — and continued to fight for hours — as heavy enemy fire rained down on them from all directions.

According to the citation accompanying Romesha’s Medal of Honor, the staff sergeant moved under intense enemy fire to reconnoiter the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner, who is identified in “The Outpost” as Cpl. Justin Gregory.

Romesha “took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds,” according to the citation.

Undeterred by his injuries, Romesha continued to fight, and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and with the assistant gunner, Romesha again “rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers.”

Romesha then mobilized and led a five-man team and returned to the fight.

“With complete disregard for his own safety, 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,” according to the citation.

As the enemy attacked the COP with even “greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds,” Romesha “identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters.”

When he learned that other soldiers at a distant battle position were still alive, Romesha and his team provided covering fire, allowing three of their wounded comrades to reach the aid station, according to the citation.

Romesha and his team also moved 100 meters under “withering fire” to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Romesha’s calm — and sense of humor — under fire is described in “The Outpost.”

During the battle, Romesha tries to rally Spc. Zach Koppes, who was pinned down in a Humvee.

As recounted in “The Outpost”:

Romesha ran up to the vehicle under enemy fire.

“This doesn’t look good,” Romesha said. “We’re all going to die.”

He laughed — he had a pretty dark sense of humor, Romesha. “You okay?”

Koppes looked at him. Bullets were ricocheting off the truck right next to him, but the staff sergeant just stood there looking back at Koppes, smiling the whole time.

Holy shit, he’s lost his mind, the specialist thought.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Koppes finally replied. “I still got this sniper behind me.”

“Okay, stay low and hang tight,” Romesha told him.

At that moment, the sniper shot at Romesha, who then ducked behind the Humvee and began playing peekaboo with the enemy, trying to draw him out so he could see exactly where he was firing from. He decided that the Taliban fighter was midway up on the Northface, so he fired the Dragunov [rifle] at the spot.

Then he turned and airily announced to Koppes, “All right, I’m going to head out.”

Romesha’s actions “throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers,” according to the citation accompanying his award. “His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counter-attack that allowed the troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating.”

After the battle, COP Keating, which had been slated for months to close but had remained open because of continual delays, was shut down and destroyed.

Romesha, of Lake City, Calif., is married and has three children. He enlisted in the Army in September 1999 as an M1 armor crewman, and deployed to Kosovo and twice to Iraq before serving in Afghanistan.

Romesha left the Army in April 2011 and currently lives with his family in Minot, N.D., where he works as a field safety specialist for an oil field construction firm.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Romesha’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.

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Old 02-11-2013, 16:00   #3
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Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha

Army vet receives Medal of Honor for leadership during Afghanistan fight

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