173rd Airborne paratrooper to receive Medal of Honor
April 16, 2014
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VICENZA, Italy (April 16, 2014) -- The President of the United States released a statement April 15th announcing a former paratrooper from the 173rd Airborne Brigade will receive the nation's highest military honor at a White House ceremony scheduled for May 13.
Former Sgt. Kyle J. White, an infantryman with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan, Nov. 9, 2007.
This is the brigade's 15th Medal of Honor and the regiment's 16th, as well as 2nd Battalion's second for Operation Enduring Freedom.
"This unit has a great and proud history built by brave paratroopers who performed valorously in extraordinary circumstances," said Col. Michael L. Foster, the brigade commander. "Recognizing Sgt. White speaks volumes not only about his actions, but to the kind of environment he and his fellow soldiers fought in. Their actions put them right alongside previous generations in terms of adding to our history."
Then-Spc.White was recommended for the award for his actions when his patrol was ambushed on a mountain path while returning back to base from a mission. Through the ambush, White exposed himself to enemy fire multiple times to provide medical aid to another Soldier and a Marine, and used the radio to relay critical information in order to provide airstrikes and artillery support, as well as medical evacuation - all while disregarding his own wounds.
"He's an inspiration to me and an inspiration to the Soldiers I lead now," said 1st Sgt. David L. Dzwik, Co. B, 1st Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. Dzwik was the weapons squad leader in White's platoon at the time and was on the other end of the radio through the ambush.
White was "the type of Soldier who will drive on - even through fear, to do whatever is right and do whatever needs to be done -- and that is what he did that day," said Dzwik.
Six servicemen were killed in the ambush: Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, Capt. Matthew C. Ferrara, Spc. Joseph M. Lancour, Cpl. Sean K. Langevin, Sgt. Jeffery S. Mersman and Cpl. Lester G. Roque.
"It was a difficult deployment for the whole battalion and the sacrifices of those we lost will never be forgotten," said White. "Through the deployment everyone kept moving forward, through the losses of our brothers and we continued on with the mission till we completed it."
Since the brigade's reactivation in Italy in 2000, 173rd paratroopers have been deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan four times. It was during the 2007 Consolidation II phase of the Afghanistan Campaign that Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta was awarded the brigade's first Medal of Honor for Operation Enduring Freedom -- the first living recipient since the Vietnam War.
White will be the second Sky Soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor for the same deployment and the 14th servicemember to be awarded the medal for Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
The 173rd Airborne, forward deployed in Italy and Germany, is U.S. Army Europe's Contingency Response Force, capable of projecting forces to conduct the full of range of military operations across the United State European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility.
White completed his military service in January and is now a civilian investment professional working in Charlotte, N.C.
"My time with the 173rd was amazing," said White. "I consider my tour with the brigade as the best part of my time serving in the U.S. Army. There is a unique culture within the unit that comes from its long and proud history."
Members of the brigade will join the White Family at the upcoming White House ceremony.
"It's an honor to be a part of something like this," said Foster. "We are all extremely proud about this award and the recognition it brings to Sgt. White, his fellow Soldiers and the five paratroopers and Marine who were killed that day. It's a motivator for every Sky Soldier to make sure we live up to that standard each day."
To view the White House ceremony on the 13th and the Pentagon Hall of Heroes induction on the 14th live, as well as for more information, visit the U.S. Army homepage: www.Army.mil/MedalofHonor/White