(WASHINGTON) — Shortly after outlining his plans for Iraq, President Obama turned to awarding the nation’s highest military honor to a veteran of the Afghanistan war.
Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter, a Marine who dove in front of a grenade to protect his best friend and comrade in Helmand Province in 2010.
“We are here because this man, this United States Marine, faced down that terrible explosive power, that unforgiving force, with his own body, willingly and deliberately, to protect a fellow Marine,” the president said. “When that grenade exploded, Kyle Carpenter’s body took the brunt of the blast. His injuries were called catastrophic.”
While being treated for his injuries, Carpenter, then 21, went into cardiac arrest and flat-lined three times, Obama said. Each time, doctors brought him back.
“Along with his parents, who call Kyle’s survival ‘our miracle,’ we thank God they did, because with that singular act of courage, Kyle, you not only saved your brother in arms, you displayed a heroism in the blink of an eye that will inspire for generations, valor worthy of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor,” Obama said.
Carpenter, now 24 and retired from the Marine Corps, recovered for some time at Walter Reed Medical Center and underwent nearly 40 surgeries, including receiving a “new prosthetic eye, a new jaw, new teeth, and one hell of a smile.”
“You’ll notice that Kyle doesn’t hide his scars. He’s proud of them and the service that they represent,” Obama said. “I’m just quoting him. He says the girls definitely like them…he’s working an angle on this thing.”
Speaking to reporters after the event, Carpenter offered some words of advice he lives by since the day he nearly lost his life.
“Freedom is a powerful and beautiful thing. Be thankful for what you have. Appreciate the small and simple things. Be kind and help others. Let the ones you love know you love them. And when things get tough, trust there is a bigger plan and that you will be stronger for it,” Carpenter said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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