Charlotte veteran receives Medal of Honor for bravery in battle
Posted May 13, 2014
Updated May 14, 2014
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday presented the Medal of Honor to a former Army sergeant who saved a fellow soldier's life and helped secure the evacuation of other wounded Americans while under persistent fire during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan.
Obama awarded the medal to Kyle J. White during a ceremony at the White House. White, a 27-year-old Seattle native now living in Charlotte, is the seventh living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Today, we pay tribute to a soldier who embodies the courage of his generation – a young man who was a freshman in high school when the Twin Towers fell and who, just five years later, became an elite paratrooper with the legendary 173rd Airborne – the Sky Soldiers," Obama said.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who met with White in April, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon congratulating him and praising him for his "selfless service."
"It is people like Kyle that make our nation the greatest on earth, and I am honored to say that he is a North Carolina resident," McCrory said.
An Army account of the attack says White and his team of 14 U.S. soldiers, along with Afghan National Army soldiers, were ambushed Nov. 9, 2007, after attempting to hold a meeting with village elders in the village of Aranas in Nuristan province.
During the exchange of fire, White was knocked unconscious. When he came to, he realized that most of his fellow Americans and all of the Afghans traveling with them had slid 150 feet down a rocky cliff for cover.
Left at the top with White were platoon leader 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, Spc. Kain Schilling, Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks and the group's interpreter.
White set about trying to assess the condition of his fellow soldiers, running and crawling through gunfire only to find Ferrara already was dead and Bocks badly wounded.
Suffering from concussions, White treated Schilling's injuries and used one of the unit's radios to call for help.
White also tried to stop Bocks' bleeding.
"Sgt. Bocks succumbed to his wounds, but in his final moments, this American Marine surely found some solace in Kyle White – the American soldier who, until the very end, was there by his side," Obama said.
When a helicopter arrived after nightfall, White only allowed himself to be evacuated after the wounded were assisted.
Schilling survived the attack and has told the Army that he planned to attend White's Medal of Honor ceremony.
White retired from the Army in 2011. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte with a finance degree and now works as an investment analyst at a bank in Charlotte.
In his first public discussion of the attack, White said that after the ambush, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"More than six years later, he can still see the images and hear the sounds of that battle. Every day, he wakes up thinking about his battle buddies," Obama said.
The president continued:
"And if you look closely at that man in the suit on his way to work, you’ll notice the piece of the war that he carries with him tucked under his shirt sleeve – a stainless steel bracelet around his wrist etched with the names of his six fallen comrades who will always be with him.
"'Their sacrifice motivates me,' he says, to 'be the best [that] I can be. Everything I do in my life is done to make them proud.'"