Epic combat valor: Soldier to receive Medal of Honor

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jan 11, 2013

(CNN) — A former U.S. Army staff sergeant will be just the fourth living recipient of the nation’s highest award for combat valor for his actions in repelling an insurgent onslaught in Afghanistan in 2009.

President Obama said on Friday that Clinton Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor next month.

Romesha is being recognized for his courage while a section leader with Bravo Troop, 3-61 Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at combat outpost Keating .

The assault on the outpost in the eastern province of Nuristan goes down as one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

According to the citation accompanying the award, Romesha and fellow soldiers awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of their complex. They were firing rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns and motors.

Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire multiple times to muster reinforcements and fire on attackers.

He took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, was wounded by shrapnel when a generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

He fought on undeterred, exposing himself to “heavy enemy fire” while moving “confidently about the battlefield. Romesha engaged and destroyed “multiple enemy targets.” He also directed air support to destroy more than 30 enemy fighters and saved other wounded troops.

“Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers. His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating,” according to the award citation.

According to the book, “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper, which examines the events leading up to and on the deadly day, Romesha exhibited intense courage and determination as the outnumbered U.S. troops and Afghan allies battled an enemy force numbering in the hundreds.

Tapper says Romesha is the “son of a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church in Cedarville, California.”

His parents, according to the book “had hoped he would follow his father into the church leadership, and Romesha had in fact gone to seminary for four years during high school — from five till seven every morning — but ultimately it just wasn’t for him.

“He didn’t even go on a mission, a regular rite for young Mormon men. Romesha was better suited to this kind of mission, with guns and joes under his command,” Tapper wrote.

The battle that started early on October 3 and lasted for 12 hours, according to CNN reporting. Eight American soldiers and more than 100 militants were killed and much of the outpost was destroyed. Twenty-two U.S. troops were wounded.

A U.S. military investigation said the outpost was an “attractive target” because protection improvements hadn’t been made and intelligence assets had been diverted to assist other combat operations elsewhere.

It also said “intelligence assessments had become desensitized to reports of massing enemy formations by previous reports that had proved false.”

The military says militants had been planning the attack for days, hiding mortars, rockets and heavy machine guns in the mountains.

Romesha left the Army in 2011 and now lives in Minot, North Dakota.