Marine who took grenade blast for comrade receives Medal of Honor
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
- Retired Marine Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter receives award for valor
- He took a grenade blast in Afghanistan while shielding a fellow Marine
- He will be the eighth living Iraq, Afghanistan veteran to receive the award
- "I am just getting started," he says
(CNN) -- William "Kyle" Carpenter lost most of his jaw and an eye when he fell on a grenade to shield a fellow Marine from the blast. His body shattered, one lung collapsed, Carpenter was nearly given up for dead after that 2010 Afghanistan firefight.
Then he spent 2½ years in a hospital as doctors worked to rebuild his body. But if you think he's bitter, think again.
"I look back, and I'm actually very appreciative I had those two and a half years, because those years put things in perspective more than a whole lifetime of things could if I wasn't there," Carpenter said.
On Thursday, he became the eighth living veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.
President Barack Obama presented the medal at a White House ceremony.
Former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts receives the Medal of Honor on Monday, July 21, for his actions during a battle in Afghanistan in 2008. According to the Army, Pitts launched grenade after grenade under a hail of enemy gunfire as comrades at other nearby posts fell. He also asked other soldiers to fire at his position to prevent the enemy from gaining ground. Click through to see other Afghanistan veterans who have received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor in combat.
Afghanistan vets receive Medal of Honor
Carpenter was wounded in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on November 21, 2010, while serving as a machine gunner, according to the White House.
Carpenter and another Marine were manning a rooftop position during a firefight with Taliban insurgents when a hand grenade landed nearby, the Marine Corps said.
Carpenter rushed toward the grenade and his body took most of the blast, according to the Marine Corps. The other Marine, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, was also injured.
In a Defense Department video, Carpenter said he had to be revived while being evacuated by helicopter from the battle and was labeled dead on arrival at a field hospital. He later nearly died again at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he said.
"The enemy killed me. I came back, ran a marathon, completed a mud run and jumped from a plane. I won't ever quit. I am just getting started," he said in the video.
Carpenter, medically retired from the Marine Corps last year, is now a student at the University of South Carolina.
After braving gunfire to save comrades, Army vet gets highest U.S. military honor
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
Medal of Honor recipients
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
As many as 175 enemy troops killed, 18 wounds from enemy fire, 38 hours of battle, 48 hours evading the North Vietnamese troops in the bush -- and one tiger.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
Despite at least two wounds, Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing stayed at his post and directed artillery fire upon hordes of Confederates charging the center of the Union line.
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
William "Kyle" Carpenter lost most of his jaw and an eye when he fell on a grenade to shield a fellow Marine from the blast.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
An Army veteran credited with trying to save the lives of fellow soldiers during a firefight in Afghanistan will be awarded the nation's highest military award.
March 19, 2014 -- Updated 1210 GMT (2010 HKT)
If not for the hue of their skin or their ethnicity, 24 soldiers who faced death in service to their nation would have received the most prestigious medals for their valor long ago.
November 4, 2013 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Four years after a brutal battle in Afghanistan in which he was "outnumbered, outgunned, and taking casualties," this former Army Captain received his due.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1651 GMT (0051 HKT)
President Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha for his efforts in Afghanistan.
February 12, 2013 -- Updated 1528 GMT (2328 HKT)
His eyes moist and lower lip trembling, Clint Romesha nodded haltingly at family, comrades, military brass and the president standing to applaud him for receiving the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0646 GMT (1446 HKT)
It's not often that someone you know and consider a friend is awarded the Medal of Honor.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
Former Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha is known for his valor, but he admits to Jake Tapper that all he feels is guilt.
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Read an excerpt from CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper's book, "The Outpost," detailing Romesha's time in Afghanistan.
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 2210 GMT (0610 HKT)
CNN's Jake Tapper debuts An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha Thurs., 2/7 at 10 p.m. ET.
May 17, 2012 -- Updated 0105 GMT (0905 HKT)
Rose Mary Sabo Brown spent just 30 days with her new husband, Army Spec. Leslie Sabo Jr., before he shipped out to fight in Vietnam. But from that month together in 1969 grew a lifetime of love.
In most cases when a soldier does something extraordinarily brave in battle, it happens in a matter of moments. But to reward that bravery often takes years.
Since 1863, it has been awarded the bravest soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
Readers share their thoughts on what actions call for a Medal of Honor.