Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, U.S. Army, received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Monday–the second member of his unit to receive the country’s highest military honor for bravery and valor in a hellish firefight in 2009.
Surrounded by more than 40 members of Carter’s family, including his wife and three children, President Obama praised him and his unit. With 37 Army Commendation Medals, 27 Purple Hearts, 18 Bronze Stars, and nine Silver Stars, the unit is among the most highly decorated of the entire war.
Obama described how on October 3, 2009, 53 American soldiers came under fire by more than 300 Taliban fighters who surrounded them on all sides at one of the most remote and vulnerable outposts in Afghanistan, Combat Outpost (COP) Keating. Obama described the firefight:
Ty jumped out of bed, put on his boots and his helmet and his Kevlar vest, grabbed some ammo and he ran–into bullets coming down like rain, for a hundred meters–to resupply his comrades out in that Humvee. When they needed more, he ran back, blasted the locks off supply rooms and sprinted yet again–dodging explosions, darting between craters–back to the Humvee.
The ferocious fire forced them inside. And so it was that five American soldiers–including Ty and Specialist Stephan Mace–found themselves trapped in that Humvee, the tires flat, RPGs pouring in, peppering them with shrapnel, threatening to break through the armor of their vehicle. And, worst of all, Taliban fighters were penetrating the camp. The choice, it seemed, was simple–stay and die, or make a run for it.
Watch President Obama present the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Ty Carter here:
After receiving the medal, Carter called on Americans to “take the time to learn about the invisible wounds.”
“Know that a soldier or veteran, suffering from post traumatic stress, is one of the most passionate, dedicated men or women you will ever meet,” Carter said. “Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living when others did not. Know that they, we, are not defeated–are never defeated. We are resilient and will emerge stronger over time.”
“The battle of COP Keating: two Medals of Honor, nine Silver Stars, 27 Purple Hearts, eight Bronze Stars with valor, three Bronze Stars, and 37 army commendations with valor–but the toll was high. Not of medals. Eight soldiers died that day and another later. More than half of us were wounded. And almost everyone was left with a deep invisible wound to their hearts, to their minds. These are the unlikely heroes of Combat Outpost Keating. Brave men. Brothers and soldiers for life.”