N.D. veteran honored at Pentagon ceremonyAfghanistan veteran Clinton L. Romesha was inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes at a Medal of Honor ceremony Tuesday. For heroics in a 2009 battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters, Army Staff Sgt. Romesha became the fourth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
By: By Amer Taleb, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, The Jamestown Sun
WASHINGTON — Afghanistan veteran Clinton L. Romesha was inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes at a Medal of Honor ceremony Tuesday.
For heroics in a 2009 battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters, Army Staff Sgt. Romesha became the fourth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“Staff Sgt. Romesha embodies the essence of a soldier and represents what every man and woman who dons this uniform strives to be,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno told an auditorium filled with members of the Armed Forces. “He always put his mission first. He never accepted defeat. Above all else, he never left his fallen comrades.”
When Romesha took the stage, the entire room rose to honor him.
“Some say I’m a hero, but it doesn’t make sense because I got to come home,” Romesha said. “Eight of my friends did not have that fortune.”
He frequently deflected praise away from himself toward his fellow soldiers, saying he would wear the medal to respect their memory.
“In the years to come, I just hope and pray that my fellow soldiers and Medal of Honor recipients will view me truly worthy of this award,” he said.
On Monday, Romesha received his medal at the White House from President Barack Obama.
At the Pentagon, Romesha was lavishly praised by Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
With Romesha’s wife, Tammy, in the front row, Panetta was keen to point out the sacrifices wives and husbands make for spouses who go off to war.
“It is central to the strength of our military,” Panetta said. “Every warrior who’s out there, who puts his or her life on the line, has behind them a family that supports and shares in the many sacrifices that come with serving this country.”
During the battle against the Taliban, Romesha was the section leader of Bravo Troop at Combat Outpost Keating in Nuristan Province. While injured, he led about 50 Americans to victory against hundreds of enemy combatants who were shooting down on the American compound from atop the surrounding mountains. Example after example of his efforts to save injured comrades, and to recover the bodies of dead Americans, were met with loud rounds of applause.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh presented Romesha with an honorary plaque, with Tammy holding her husband’s arm. Romesha’s name was inscribed onto the wall of the Hall of Heroes, a Pentagon gallery that displays a roster of all Medal of Honor recipients.
Romesha left the Army in 2011 after a decade in which he also served in Germany, Kosovo, South Korea and Iraq. He now lives in Minot, N.D., with his family and works in the oilfields as a field safety specialist.
“Clint Romesha, on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to thank you for your service and for your bravery,” Panetta said. “Your courage is now a part of American history.”