North Dakota man credits Medal of Honor to platoon’s valor
A North Dakota veteran set to receive the Medal of Honor for courageous action during a 13-hour firefight in Afghanistan said Wednesday that doctors got most of the shrapnel out of him and his injuries “were nothing” compared to those suffered by some of his fellow soldiers.
“I’ve had buddies that have lost eyesight and lost limbs,” Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha said during a news conference Wednesday. “I would rather give them all the credit they deserve for sacrificing so much. For me it was nothing, really. I got a little peppered, that was it.”Romesha, 31, will receive the nation’s highest military decoration for valor at the White House on Feb. 11. Romesha, who deployed out of Fort Carson, Colo., and also served twice in Iraq, will be the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The medal is for his actions while serving as a section leader during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, which sits in a valley surrounded by mountains in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province.
Romesha said he was a little star struck when President Barack Obama called to tell him he’d be receiving the honor, and he wanted the president to know he was accepting for the rest of his troop and the platoon.
He declined to go into detail about the firefight on Oct. 3, 2009, saying it wouldn’t do justice to the great actions by so many other soldiers. He said he had a great team of guys prepared to handle anything thrown at them despite being outnumbered 300 to 50.
“We weren’t going to be beat that day,” he said. “And seeing all those guys pull together, I mean you’re not going to back down in the face of adversity like that. We were just going to win, plain and simple.”
Romesha, who works in oil field safety for Tioga-based KS Industries, lives in Minot with his wife, Tammy, and three children.
Tammy Romesha said she remembers the day she was told her husband was injured but already back to work, and it was quite some time before he was able to call her.
“I had my friends. I had my Army buddies,” she said. “He was with his family over there in his deployment, and I had my family for support. My Army family was there for me, and we were all there for each other.”
Clinton Romesha, who grew up in Lake City, Calif., left the Army in April 2011 after nearly 12 years of service. He said the military and serving will always be dear to him, but he wanted to be a more family oriented.
“It came to a point where that chapter in my life was coming to an end,” he said. “And I made a decision that I wanted to be the father, the husband and the dad that I just hadn’t been fulfilling.”
Tammy Romesha said she’s looking forward to celebrating the couple’s 13th anniversary the day after the award ceremony.