Medal of honor winner credits team members who held camp

Posted: Feb. 13, 2013 8:42 am Updated: Mar. 6, 2013 10:15 am


STAFF Sgt. Clinton Romesha shared the credit with his team members after receiving the Medal of Honor Monday for heroic acts performed at what officials now call a "tactically indefensible" outpost in Afghanistan.

President Obama, who conferred the award in a White House ceremony, promised that lessons were learned from the attack on Combat Outpost Keating.

"Our troops should never, ever, be put in a position where they have to defend the indefensible," Obama said.

In a remote valley in Afghanistan, COP Keating was surrounded by mountains that gave attackers ideal cover as well as the all-important high ground. It was with those advantages that a force of about 300 Taliban fighters attacked the outpost which held 53 Americans on Oct. 3, 2009.

"What happened next has been described as one of the most intense battles of the entire war in Afghanistan," Obama said. "They had the advantage ... and they were unleashing everything they had -- rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns, mortars; snipers taking aim. To those Americans down below, the fire was coming in from every single direction."

Romesha ran through gunfire to get a machine gun, with which he took out an enemy machine gun team. A rocket propelled grenade exploded near Romesha, sending shrapnel into his hip, arm and neck.

Heedless of his own wounds, Romesha took charge when enemies penetrated the camp and he brought down three of the attackers.

Romesha and his team pulled back and regrouped, then retook the camp and called in air strikes that killed 30 insurgents and reclaimed a mortar pit that had been overrun.

American troops also poured concentrated fire at enemy positions so that wounded soldiers from a Humvee could escape. Then the soldiers charged 100 meters to retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades.

"I accept this tremendous honor on behalf of all soldiers who served with me that day. This award is for the eight soldiers that didn't make it, and for the rest of the team that fought valiantly and magnificently that day," Romesha said soon after accepting the award.

Other members of Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division had received their own awards, accepting 37 Army Commendation Medals, 27 Purple Hearts, 18 Bronze Stars and nine Silver Stars.

Romesha said the camp survived because of the actions of battle buddies, soldiers and friends who did their jobs as soldiers.

Obama said Romesha and his team's love for each other gave them the victory.

A grateful nation should honor and remember Romesha and untold thousands who have served and sacrificed in the military. To do less would truly be indefensible.