Medal of Honor Recipient: ‘Valor Was Everywhere That Day’
Today, President Barack Obama presented Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts with the Medal of Honor for his actions in 2008 during the Battle of Wanat, one of the deadliest engagements of the war in Afghanistan.
As the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest military award for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pitts has vowed to wear the medal to honor and remember his fellow soldiers who died that day.
“Pitts and his unit found themselves completely surrounded by the enemy,” Lea Gabrielle explained on Shepard Smith Reporting. “In fact, in such close proximity, that Pitts had to fight by himself at one point for more than an hour when he was injured so badly he couldn’t even stand up. He was “cooking off” his grenades, essentially, pulling the pin and then holding on for a few seconds to a live grenade, before throwing it, because he didn’t want the enemy to pick it up and throw it back.”
With grave wounds in both legs, an arm and his torso, Pitts battled an estimated 200 Taliban fighters, as the rest of his unit had been killed or fallen back.
“This was an enemy that outnumbered us, had us surrounded, element of surprise, high ground, and we held our ground,” Pitts said. “I thought it was my time. But … a lot of guys had already given their lives and fought to their last breaths. So, I owed it to do the same.”
Pitts stated he will wear the medal to honor the nine men who died in the battle.
“I see it as a new mission for me and a responsibility to tell our story,” he said. “Valor was everywhere that day. I didn’t do anything any greater than anybody else.”
President Obama said during the Medal of Honor Ceremony, “This is the story Ryan wants us to remember: Soldiers who loved each other like brothers and who fought for each other, and families who made a sacrifice that our nation must never forget.”
“It is remarkable we have young men and women serving in our military, who day-in, day-out are able to perform with so much integrity, so much humility and so much courage. Ryan represents the very best of that tradition.”
Watch the Medal of Honor ceremony below: