Former Sgt. Kyle White on Tuesday became the nation’s newest Medal of Honor recipient.
White, who was honored for his actions in November 2007 in Afghanistan, received the nation’s highest award for valor from President Obama during a ceremony at the White House.
“We honor Kyle White for his extraordinary actions on that November day,” Obama said in his remarks.
As White repeatedly braved enemy fire to reach his wounded and fallen comrades, he “could feel the pressure of the rounds going by him, but, somehow, miraculously, the bullets never hit him,” Obama said. “As one of his comrades said, he was moving faster than a speeding bullet.”
After the events of that deadly November day, White continued to serve out his 15-month deployment, and when the time came to leave the Army, he moved on, got a degree, and now works for a bank in Charlotte, Obama said, describing White as a “proud veteran contributing to his community.”
However, “the transition to civilian life and dealing with the post-traumatic stress has not been easy,” Obama said.
“Every day, he wakes up thinking about his battle buddies,” Obama said. “If you look at the man wearing a suit, going to work every day, you see the piece of war he carries with him, the stainless steel bracelet [bearing the names of the fallen].”
Dressed in the Army Service Uniform, White looked solemn and emotional as he stood beside Obama, finally cracking a smile after the ceremony.
Obama lauded White and his fellow soldiers.
“You make us proud, and you motivate all of us to be the best we can be,” he said.
White was honored for his actions on Nov. 8, 2007, during a deadly enemy ambush in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.
Five soldiers and one Marine were killed that day.
White, then a specialist with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, is credited with repeatedly running the gauntlet of enemy fire to get to the wounded and fallen. When the shooting stopped and night fell, White, who was barely 20 years old, cared for a wounded brother, called in steady radio reports, directed security and guided in close-air support until the medevac birds were able to come and evacuate the wounded and the dead.
“I do not consider myself a hero,” White said a day before the White House ceremony. “To me, the real heroes are the ones I fought with that day.”
White is the seventh living service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven service members were posthumously awarded the medal for their actions in those wars.
White also will be the second soldier from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment to receive the nation's highest valor award for actions in Afghanistan.
Former Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta was the first living service member to be honored for his actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Giunta and White deployed together in the same battalion in May 2007 for a 15-month deployment to some of the toughest parts of eastern Afghanistan.