On Thursday, June 19, 24-year-old William Kyle Carpenter will be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in the United States. Carpenter will become the second living Marine to be awarded the medal for exhibits of bravery in the war in Afghanistan.
Here’s what you need to know about Carpenter and the heroics that earned him this honor:
1. On a Rooftop in Afghanistan, Carpenter Jumped on a Grenade
On November 21, 2010, Carpenter served as a machine gunner doing security with fellow Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio. The two were stationed on a roof in the Marjah district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province when they suddenly came under combatant fire. That’s when Carpenter saw a grenade land on the rooftop near their position.
Without hesitation, Carpenter threw himself between the grenade and his comrade. The blast severely injured them both, with Carpenter shattering multiple bones, losing an eye and most of his jaw, and Eufrazio suffering brain injury.
2. Politicians Have Been Pushing for Carpenter to Be Honored
Politicians, including Republican South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, have spoken on behalf of Carpenter and his heroism. You can hear one of his speeches on the floor of the House above.
3. He Spent Over Two Years in Hospitals Recovering
Above you can watch a video of Carpenter going through his recovery process, which took more than two and a half years, in and out of hospitals, and involved more than 30 surgeries. Besides the trauma to his face and his collapsed lung, Carpenter lost a large amount of his right arm and shattered bones, which made it difficult to stop the bleeding.
4. Christopher Frend Saved His Life
A recent story in the Washington Post gives a majority of the credit for Carpenter’s survival to Hospitalman Christopher Frend, who trained in combat medicine and was one of the first people to find Carpenter after the blast.
Frend said that Carpenter’s body was still smoking when Frend collected his courage and climbed onto the roof. The first thing Frend did was pack the missing parts of Carpenter’s arms with gauze and apply a tourniquet. The helicopter arrived about 10 minutes later.
5. He’s Now a Student at the University of South Carolina