Minot man to receive Medal of Honor

The White House says a former active-duty Army staff sergeant currently living in Minot will be presented the Medal of Honor by President Obama next month for his courageous actions while serving in Afghanistan.

Clinton Romesha, 31, is the fourth living recipient to be presented the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The ceremony will be Feb. 11 in the White House.

The announcement of Romesha’s honor was made on Friday, the same day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama met at the White House to discuss the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor and is awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

“Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha is a true American hero and we are honored to recognize him for receiving the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while serving in Afghanistan,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “The Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest award and we are grateful to Staff Sgt. Romesha for his heroism and sacrifice that day and for his distinguished service to our state and nation. We salute him for receiving this prestigious recognition and for his outstanding contributions in the defense of our homeland and our way of life.”

Romesha was section leader with the 4th Infantry Division’s Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry, 4th Battalion, at Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, in Afghanistan when the battle occurred on Oct. 3, 2009.

According to U.S. Army information provided by George Wright, deputy director of Media Relations with Army Public Affairs at the Pentagon, here is an account of the incident:

Staff Sgt. Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms.

Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to reconnoiter the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner.

Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds.

Undeterred by his injuries, Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers.

Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter.

While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center. As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy more than 30 enemy fighters.

After learning that other soldiers at a distant battle position were still alive, Romesha and his team provided covering fire, allowing three of their wounded comrades to reach the aid station. While subduing enemy fighters in their path, he and his team pushed forward 100 meters under withering fire, to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.

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.

Romesha, who was born in Lake City, Calif., enlisted in the Army in September 1999. His military career includes deploying three times in support of the war on terror, with two tours to Iraq and one tour to Afghanistan. He has also served in Germany, including a deployment to Kosovo, and served in Korea. He left the Army on April 4, 2011.

According to Army information, Romesha, his wife, Tamara “Tami,” and their three children Dessi, 11, Gwen, 3, and Colin, 18 months, were living in Pueblo, Colo., and he works as a field safety specialist with an oil-field construction firm. The White House reports the family now lives in Minot.