Army veteran to become 7th living Medal of Honor recipient

Former Army Sgt. Kyle White

Former Army Sgt. Kyle White

(CNN) — An Army veteran credited with trying to save the lives of fellow soldiers during a firefight in Afghanistan will be awarded the nation’s highest military award, the White House said on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama will bestow the Medal of Honor on May 13 to former Sgt. Kyle White for heroics stemming from the 2007 battle during which his only cover from enemy fire was a single tree jutting from a mountain cliff.

Six Americans were killed and several others in the group, including White, were wounded in the four-hour attack.

The Medal of Honor is received for conspicuous gallantry on the battlefield above and beyond the call of duty. White will be the seventh living recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He left the military in 2011 and is now an investment analyst in Charlotte.

White was a platoon radio telephone operator and among 14 American troops and Afghan soldiers ambushed while on patrol on November 8, 2007, in eastern Afghanistan.

He quickly returned insurgent fire and was knocked unconscious by a rocket-propelled grenade as he tried to reload his weapon. When he came to, his face was hit with shrapnel.

White and four others were cut off from the other soldiers, who jumped from a cliff. He applied first aid to a wounded soldier and they both moved to the only cover they had: a single tree on the mountain.

His radio not working, White moved into the open to try to reach a Marine about 30 feet away who was so severely wounded he could not move. He braved enemy fire, moving back and forth several times to drag him to the tree although he died of his wounds.

White then exposed himself to withering fire again, crawling into the open to try to recover the platoon leader. When he reached him, the man was already dead.

By this time, the soldier White initially brought to the tree had been hit again, this time in the leg. White applied first aid by using his own belt as a tourniquet.

He then located a working radio and called for mortar, artillery, air strikes and helicopter gunships. But a friendly mortar round landed near him, resulting in a concussion.

After nightfall, White established a security perimeter and ensured that no U.S. military equipment fell into the hands of enemy forces.

The impact of multiple concussions was now causing his own condition to deteriorate, so he called for a medevac. He knew if he passed out, no one there could work the radio and guide the rescuers.

When help arrived, White refused assistance until the other Americans and Afghans were aboard the helicopter.

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