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Romesha receives MoH for COP Keating battle

Feb. 11, 2013 - 03:12PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 - 03:12PM  |  
Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha receives the Medal of Honor from President Obama at a White House ceremony on Feb. 11.
Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha receives the Medal of Honor from President Obama at a White House ceremony on Feb. 11. (Mike Morones / Military Times)
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Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha received the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony Monday, only the fourth living recipient to win the military's highest award for valor for actions during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Obama praised Romesha's heroic actions on Oct. 3, 2009 at remote Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan's northeastern Nuristan province, as section leader for B Troop, 3rd Battalion, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

"A later investigation found that COP Keating was tactically indefensible," Obama said. "That's what these soldiers were asked to do: Defend the indefensible."

Romesha led a counterattack against an estimated 400 Taliban insurgents to take back and secure the COP after it came under early morning enemy fire from all sides of the mountains surrounding the valley where Keating stood.

Insurgents worked their way under the wire, setting fire to the camp and destroying most of it before the battle was over.

In addition to returning small arms fire, eliminating targets with hand grenades and coordinating aerial support in defense of the COP, Romesha successfully recovered American casualties, assuring that they would not fall into the hands of insurgents.

"I was surprised any of us made it out," Obama recalled Romesha telling him.

Military leaders including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler were all on hand to celebrate Romesha's accomplishments.

Members of Romesha's B Troop were also honored with a standing ovation during the ceremony. Romesha, Obama described, is quick to point out that he didn't take back COP Keating on his own.

"So today, we also honor this American team, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice," Obama said.

He ended his address with a reading of Romesha's own words, describing the battle that led to the award.

"We weren't going to be beat that day," Obama read. "We were not going to back down in the face of adversity like that. We were just going to win, plain and simple."

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