I want to take a moment to tell you about a story that I know you have heard of happening before, but that does in no way downplay the bravery and selflessness of this act. The amazing men and women of our nation’s armed forces give up their time, their families, and even their lives to defend our country and give us a safe place to live.
William Kyle Carpenter is no exception. He and his squadron of 12 men were on a mission to gain control of the region south of their base in Afghanistan. He posted up on a nearby roof with Lance Corporal Nick Eufrazio, overlooking the mud camp the rest of the group were holed down in.
Before long a firefight of small arms and AK-47 fire broke out, preventing the Marines from easily advancing. The two roof-top spotters soon found themselves in trouble as grenades began to explode around them.
That’s when the small metal ball that would change Kyle’s life landed on the roof with them.
Without a second thought, Carpenter leaped on top of the explosive just before it detonated. The young man used his own body as a shield to absorb the explosion.
Shrapnel embedded itself in everywhere throughout his body. The bones that provide the structure for his face and jaw completely shattered, so badly that he lost most of his lower jaw. Lance Corporal Carpenter’s condition was so poor that upon arrival to Camp Bastion, he was pronounced a patient expired on arrival (P.E.A.)
By all accounts, this fearless soldier had died defending not only the country he loved but the soldiers he fought along side with.
However, death was not yet on his agenda. He never gave up even though that would seem like a viable option.
Lance Corporal Carpenter has undergone around 40 surgeries including brain operations to remove shrapnel lodged in his head. He had broken countless bones; one arm having over thirty fractures. Carotid arteries in his neck were punctured. Both of his eardrums had exploded.
His right lung completely collapsed. His right eye was destroyed and most of his teeth were missing or busted beyond repair.
Kyle flatlined three times total. Once just after the attack and twice in the week it took to get him to Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Even still, all this was not enough to make him give in.
Five weeks of major reconstructive surgery and recovery passed before he finally regained consciousness. Upon waking he found his hospital room decorated for Christmas time with stockings for each one of his family members. His mom’s hand in making him feel more at home.
He worked very hard to achieve the goals he made for himself. Early therapy proved a difficult and tedious process as Kyle gained strength back in his entire body. He would push to make it to the door outside his room. Then, the next room down. He pushed a little more every day until he made it all the way around the nurses’ station; causing the entire room to explode in celebration.
Kyle’s determination and courage earned him a place in his ultimate goal: to run a marathon.
That’s not all he has done. He received the highest decoration in our military today, the Medal of Honor, becoming only the second living Marine since the Vietnam War to receive that honor.
He has been on Letterman as well as a powerful interview on ESPN!
Every day, the men and women of our nations armed forces show incredible valor and bravery. We are thankful for the sacrifice they make for people they don’t even know, keeping our nation safe and free.
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