WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is presenting the Medal of Honor to a former Army sergeant who saved a fellow soldier’s life and helped secure the evacuation of other wounded Americans while under persistent fire during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan.
Obama was to award the medal to Kyle J. White during a ceremony Tuesday at the White House. White, a 27-year-old Seattle native now living in Charlotte, N.C., will be the seventh living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
An Army account of the attack says White and his team of 14 U.S. soldiers, along with Afghan National Army soldiers, were ambushed Nov. 9, 2007, after attempting to hold a meeting with village elders in the village of Aranas in Nuristan province.
During the exchange of fire, White was knocked unconscious. When he came to, he realized that most of his fellow Americans and all of the Afghans traveling with them had slid 150 feet down a rocky cliff for cover.
Left at the top with White were platoon leader 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, Spc. Kain Schilling, Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks and the group’s interpreter. White set about trying to assess the condition of his fellow soldiers, running and crawling through gunfire only to find Ferrara already was dead and Bocks badly wounded. Though he tried to stop Bocks’ bleeding, the Marine later died.
Suffering from concussions, White treated Schilling’s injuries and used one of the unit’s radios to call for help.
When a helicopter arrived after nightfall, White only allowed himself to be evacuated after the wounded were assisted.
Schilling survived the attack and has told the Army that he planned to attend White’s Medal of Honor ceremony.
White retired from the Army in 2011. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte with a finance degree and now works as an investment analyst at a bank in Charlotte.
In his first public discussion of the attack, White said that after the ambush, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He urged veterans suffering from the illness to get help.
PBS NewsHour will live stream the White House event Tuesday at 3 p.m. EDT.