By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2014 – Former Army Sgt. Kyle J. White said that when he accepts the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama at the White House on May 13, he will do so in honor of the five soldiers and one Marine "who gave their lives in the defense of freedom and the American way of life."
White spoke at a press conference yesterday at the National Guard Center in Charlotte, N.C., near where he now lives. White was just 20 when he was deployed to Afghanistan. On Nov. 9, 2007, his 14-man unit and squad of Afghan soldiers were brutally ambushed on three sides by Taliban fighters on a path descending from the village of Aranas into a valley.
"On May 13th when I'm awarded the Medal of Honor, I will tell their stories and preserve their memories… they will not be forgotten," the now-27-year-old Seattle native told the press and bloggers. "Their sacrifice and the sacrifices of so many others are what motivate me to wake up each and every day to be the best I can. Everything I do in my life is done to make them proud."
White was asked how strong the memory of the battle is now, after almost seven years, during which time he attained a bachelor's degree and became an investment analyst for a major bank.
"I would say for the first couple of years, memories were more vivid than today. As time goes on certain things you think about less and less, but at any given moment I can close my eyes and hear the sounds and smell the gunpowder in the air; but six and a half years later, I don't think about it as much as I used to," he said.
He did share that there were two things he can always visualize as if it were yesterday -- when he looked up from applying a tourniquet to wounded Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks to see then-Spc. Kain Schilling take an enemy round to his left leg. White rushed to his buddy and for the second time that day applied a second tourniquet to Schilling, the only one he had left, his own belt.
White will receive the Medal of Honor for his disregard of his own life while trying to save the lives of a Marine and two fellow soldiers after his team of 14 U.S. soldiers and squad of Afghan National Army soldiers were set up and ambushed by a much larger and more heavily armed Taliban force, who engaged in a three-prong attack from elevated ground.
He will become the seventh living recipient of the nation's highest military decoration for conspicuous gallantry and valor during actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.