By David VergunJuly 24, 2014
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 24, 2014) -- "The value of serving in the unit and in combat resides in the relationships we have with people. It doesn't reside in the medals," said former Staff Sgt. Ryan M. Pitts.
Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony Monday. On Tuesday, Pitts was inducted into the Hall of Heroes during a Pentagon ceremony.
Following the induction ceremony, Pitts and four of his battle buddies who served with him on the day his valorous actions took place, July 13, 2008, spoke at a media roundtable here in the Pentagon.
Pitts said he never wanted any of the awards he wears on his chest, including the Medal of Honor.
"The awards are just metal and cloth. I know what we did that day." He added that he accepted the award on behalf of all his fellow Soldiers, including nine who had fallen. "It's our medal, not mine.
"We all answered the call and Chosen Company became our family," he continued. "We were dedicated to each other. The life of the man next to you was more important than your own, which was most greatly exemplified by the fallen."
About the battle on July 13, 2008, "I still think about it every day," Pitts said. "But most of the time, I think about what we did when we were together. I'm still awestruck. I saw what fellow Soldiers did. It was unbelievable."
"It is an absolute privilege to be a leader of men like them," said now-1st Sgt. David Dzwik, who served with Pitts during the battle. "Everything we do is for each other."
Pitts later left the Army and went to work as a software business developer for Oracle in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Upon leaving the service "you feel your family has been disbanded," he said, regarding the transition to civilian life. "That's tough. But you've got to realize we're still all here. You can lean on these guys. I still pick up the phone. We stay in touch, even though we're not in close physical proximity.
"I love the military," he continued. "I don't think I'll ever be completely transitioned. It's been the benchmark which I measure all other experiences that I have."
Before committing to attend the Medal of Honor ceremonies, Pitts said he insisted on all of the Gold Star family members also attending. Those were the families of the fallen: Spc. Sergio Abad, Cpl. Jonathan Ayers, Cpl. Jason Bogar, 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, Sgt. Israel Garcia, Cpl. Jason Hovater, Cpl. Matthew Phillips, Cpl. Pruitt Rainey and Cpl. Gunnar Zwilling.
Pitts said he called each one and that the commitment the men of Chosen Company had for one another extends to their family members as well.
Although Pitts' wife Amy was not married to him on the day he earned the Medal of Honor, she and the family members of those who survived the battle and the Gold Star family members have bonded during this five-day visit to Washington, D.C.
"That's really the story of this week, that we really wanted to care for them (Gold Star family members) and give them stories that they've never heard and give them information they need if they've still got questions," said Maj. Matthew Myer, who was the Chosen Company commander at the time.
Pitts said he's also bonded with other Medal of Honor recipients. He said he first learned about his Medal of Honor from another MOH-recipient, Sgt. Kyle White, who texted him. They still stay in contact.
"It's a great comfort to lean on them and pick up the phone if I need to," he said, regarding the Soldiers he served with, and the other MOH recipients.
Brian Hissong and Mike Denton, two other Soldiers who served with Pitts on that July day, added that they all stay in contact and it's a bond they'll always have.
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