• Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, left, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, Division West, poses for a picture with his longtime friend and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha at a formal reception hosted by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler in Washington, D.C., Feb. 11. Harris and Romesha met during basic training in 1999 and have remained friends throughout their Army careers. (Courtesy photo)

    Division West NCO attends White House Medal of Honor ceremony

    Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, left, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, Division West, poses for a picture with his longtime friend and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha at...

  • Longtime friends Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, left, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, Division West, and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, center, pose for a picture with their former platoon leader and tank commander, Maj. Adam Smith, in the Green Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 11. Romesha invited Harris, his friend since basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., in 1999, to come to Washington for Romesha's Medal of Honor presentation. (Courtesy photo)

    Division West NCO attends White House Medal of Honor ceremony

    Longtime friends Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, left, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, Division West, and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, center, pose for a picture...

  • Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, right, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, Division West, poses for a picture with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey in the Cross Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 11. Harris was in Washington to attend the ceremony presenting the Medal of Honor to his longtime friend, Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha. (Courtesy photo)

    Division West NCO attends White House Medal of Honor ceremony

    Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, right, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, Division West, poses for a picture with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey in the Cross Room...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Soldiers frequently have the privilege of standing in formation while a fellow Soldier is awarded a commander's coin, named NCO of the month, or recognized with an award. However, very few are privileged enough to stand in the East Room of the White House while the President presents their battle buddy from basic training with the nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress.

Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Harris, assigned to Division West's 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wis., was one of those privileged few last month.

Harris, an observer controller/trainer in 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment, received an invitation from the White House to attend the ceremony presenting the Medal of Honor to his longtime friend, Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha.

Harris and Romesha met in 1999, when they attended basic training together at Fort Knox, Ky. As tank crewmen, their friendship continued in their first duty assignment to the 1st Infantry Division in Vilseck, Germany, and then a deployment to Kosovo with 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment. As their paths continued to cross over the next 11 years of their Army careers, the two Soldiers and their Families remained good friends.

Romesha received the Medal of Honor for his performance while engaged in an action against the enemy during the October 2009 defense of Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. His actions were critical in suppressing an enemy force of more than 300 fighters and in organizing an effective counterattack, which eventually allowed his troop to secure the outpost. An estimated 150 enemies were killed in the fight, while 22 Americans were wounded and eight U.S. Soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in what remains one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghanistan campaign.

Harris said he was very honored to receive the personal invitation to Romesha's award ceremony and immediately made plans to travel to the nation's capital. His three days in Washington included a tour of the White House with other honored guests, attendance at ceremonies in both the East Room and the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, a private gathering at their hotel hosted by Command Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, and opportunities to re-unite with old friends.

Though unable to personally meet his commander-in-chief, Harris said he was proud to have met and talked with many distinguished military and political leaders, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.

Harris said he was thankful to share in the opportunity to recognize the gallantry of his friend and fellow Soldier, while also honoring the memory of the eight American service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation.

Page last updated Fri March 1st, 2013 at 00:00