By Staff Sgt. Wallace BonnerJanuary 30, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. (Jan. 25, 2013) -- Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha, section sergeant, Company B, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is scheduled to be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barrack Obama, Feb. 11, in Washington, D.C., for his heroic actions at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3, 2009.
According to Master Sgt. Ronald Burton, operations noncommissioned officer in charge, 3rd Sqdrn., 61st Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 4th ID, who was the first sergeant at Combat Outpost, or COP, Keating at the time of the attack, and excerpts that the Army Times used from "The Outpost," by Jake Tapper, the engagement began as insurgents launched a hail of gunfire, interspersed with rocket fire, during the early morning hours. The Soldiers in the COP reacted smoothly and efficiently with battle drills honed and battle tested by 45 attacks in the four months prior.
Unlike previous attacks, which had lasted five to 10 minutes, and typically involved insurgents shooting a few rifle and mortar rounds and retreating, the attack remained focused, with 300 insurgents assaulting the post of 50 American Soldiers and two Latvian soldiers, breaching the perimeter, and securing the mortar pit.
The nearby Observation Post, or OP, Fritsch, with 19 American Soldiers, was simultaneously attacked, preventing them from supporting the COP.
It was during this attack that Romesha took charge, and, for which he is being awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor.
"The biggest thing for him that day, he was all over the place," said Burton, of Romesha. "We have our battle drills, but when things began to change, he took charge. He reported into us, and then he went back out, took part of the base, then defended it."
Romesha leading the charge and retaking of the mortar pit may have been instrumental in the successful defense of the COP during the 10-hour fight, but his actions didn't stop there.
According to the Army News Service, he took out an enemy machine gun team, and continued to engage another one, even while injured from shrapnel due to a generator exploding from a rocket-propelled grenade. He also directed air support that killed 30 insurgents.
The Army Time's recounting of Romesha's citation adds even more detail to his actions that day. When COP Keating was informed that OP Fritsch had injured Soldiers requiring medical assistance, Romesha provided covering fire that allowed those Soldiers to reach the aid station. He also traversed 100 meters under withering fire to secure the bodies of fellow Soldiers who had fallen during the fighting.
The long anticipated award was announced Jan. 11.
"It's been a long time coming," said Burton. "When it finally came out [Jan. 25], I was just excited."
Romesha's reaction to the news included some mixed emotions.
"I don't think you ever sit there and expect this to come, it's bittersweet," said Romesha. "It's a great opportunity to tell all the great things that happened that day; one team, one fight."
Romesha considered the award an opportunity to accomplish some things he wanted to do that may not have been possible otherwise.
He said it allowed him, "to be able to get back into contact with such great friends and family members, and share in the experience of it; to get the message of teamwork and dedication that everyone showed that day, such courage and honor, has really meant a lot to me."
Romesha also sees the award as an opportunity to tell the Soldier's story.
"You don't really wake up in the morning and think; 'today I'm gonna go try and be awarded the Medal of Honor,'" said Romesha. "And for me, I hold true to that. I believe there's so many Soldiers out there, that if they were given the opportunity that we had faced that day, they would have done what I did.
"It's the small things that people don't see that Soldiers do every day; the getting up early, putting that uniform on," said Romesha. "Saying goodbye to their families for a year and kind of putting family life on hold, those are the every-day heroes, this is what that award means to me."
Looking into Romesha's family, it might seem as though Romesha had heroism bred into his bones. His grandfather was a World War II veteran, his father a Vietnam veteran, his oldest brother has served in both the Army and the Air Force, while the second oldest was in the Marine Corps. Romesha said the military was something he always knew he wanted to do.
He credits his grandfather for instilling in him the qualities that made him so effective during that battle.
When asked about what other Soldiers could do to emulate his success, he replied: "I would resort back to my grandfather, who has always been my personal hero, and one of the great life-lessons he taught me, and I've always held true, is that your actions will speak for you: don't just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk, and dig down deep into that warrior spirit every one of you have, and execute."
Romesha's wife, Tamara Romesha, has also been adjusting to the news.
"I'm still a little star struck, awe struck," said Tamara Romesha. "I've always known he could do amazing things; he is a very capable, great guy, but you guys are walking in and seeing him as he is now. I still think back to when we were in high school together, so it's a little new for me to think of him as a [medal of honor] recipient."
Romesha is currently separated from the Army, working out of Minot, North Dakota, with KS Industries as a quality assurance team member, and lives with his wife and three children.
During his service in the Army, from 1999 to 2011, Romesha was stationed in Germany, Korea, and Fort Carson, Colo. He deployed twice to Korea, twice to Iraq, and once to Afghanistan.
Romesha's awards include: the Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal w/ three Campaign Stars, Bronze Star Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, Purple Heart, five Army Achievement Medals, Valorous Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon w/ Numeral 2, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon w/ Numeral 5, NATO Medal w/ Bronze Service Star, and the Combat Action Badge.