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  1. #1

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    Default Medal of Honor: Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha (Afghanistan)

    On February 11, 2013, Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Section Leader with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009.


    Citation is here: http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/romesha/citation.html


    Here is the Team with several Silver and Bronz Star medals:
    www.army.mil/medalofhonor/romesha/team.html
    Red Platoon - 1st Platoon
    B Troop 3-61 Cavalry, 4th BCT, 4th

    Red Platoon, 3-61 Cavalry Regiment at Cop Keating


    Members of Red Platoon, 3-61 Cavalry Regiment, including Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha (front row, second from right), pose for a picture just after arriving at Combat Outpost Keating, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, 2009.

    (Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. Brad Larson)




    Bobdina's forum thread about the Silver Stars (from 2010 April) on ApacheClips board:
    http://www.apacheclips.com/boards/sh...at-COP-Keating


    Official microsite : http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/romesha/index.html



    ----------


    CBS video from today:



    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-...an-war-battle/
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    Hellfreeza (02-26-2013)
  3. #2

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    Elizabeth Collins wrote a three-part series about former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha’s heroism at the battle of COP Keating, and his transition from soldier to civilian.
    I'm posting now this series, it will be very long, with many great photos, but it is really good.

    all pictures are the originals, not reduced, and all of them got description, just mouse over it!
    --- PART 1 of 3


    ---
    COP Keating: The Battle Begins
    Story by Elizabeth Collins

    Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are seen at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, in 2009. (Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. Brad Larson)“Enemy in the wire! Enemy in the wire!” The news – the stuff of nightmares – spread through Red and Blue platoons in seconds. “Enemy in the wire.” Many soldiers didn’t believe it at first. It was a phrase they never expected to hear, one they dreaded.

    It couldn’t be true, they reasoned. The battle for Combat Outpost Keating, for their very existence, had started less than an hour earlier, as Oct. 3, 2009, dawned, when some 300 insurgents had surrounded the small outpost manned by about 50 Americans, an Afghan National Army unit and its two Latvian trainers. The fighting was intense, but the enemy couldn’t possibly have breached the base that quickly, could they?

    Crouched behind the COP’s aid station a short time later with a couple of other soldiers, Red Platoon’s lead scout and acting platoon sergeant, now-former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha, didn’t quite believe it as he watched three enemy fighters casually stroll through Keating’s entry control point. They sat down behind one of the Humvees as though they had already won the battle.

    One of the fighters even leaned his rocket-propelled grenade launcher against the truck and reached up to tighten his headband.

    “I kind of thought to myself, ‘Is this real?’” Romesha remembered.
    “We had three Taliban fighters just walk right through our front gate and put foot in our home.”

    Romesha had already been fighting hard, exposing himself to enemy fire countless times – he had the shrapnel wounds to show for it - but enough was enough. He squeezed the trigger on his sniper rifle and “put an end to that.” It was time to take Keating back.

    Romesha, “Ro” to his soldiers, seemed fearless as he ran from one position to another, securing this building, closing that entrance, inspiring his troops with his resolve and steely sense of calm.

    “I think that’s what gave more motivation to soldiers, just to see that this guy had no fear,” said now-Staff Sgt. Armando Avalos Jr., the unit’s forward observer. … He just looked like an old Vietnam veteran with this long mustache, and just to see him out there, directing … not once was he ever questioned. He was precise, he was confident and he knew exactly what to do.”

    To recognize that courage, the valor that Romesha showed throughout the 12 hours it took to retake and secure Keating, President Barack Obama will award the him the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony, Feb. 11, making Romesha just the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s something he never set out to achieve or really ever wanted. It’s an honor – the highest of honors – that he will wear with pride for the eight soldiers who died that day. But the cost, he explained, was just too high. He’d gladly trade it in to bring back even one of those men.

    The son of a Vietnam veteran and grandson of a World War II veteran, Clinton L. Romesha, always knew that once he turned 18, he would join the Army. In this undated photo, Romesha is pictured as a young boy at his grandfather's ranch in California. Feb. 11, 2013, he will receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2003. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)A Medal of Honor recipient is born

    The son of a Vietnam veteran and grandson of a World War II veteran who took his brother’s place in the draft, Romesha was born to serve. He grew up on his grandfather’s stories of landing on Normandy only two days after D-Day and always knew that once he turned 18, he would follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. He left the Mormon seminary he had attended while still in high school to become a heavy armor soldier.

    Romesha headed to Germany in 2000 with his new wife, his high school sweetheart Tammy, and was soon sent to Kosovo and later assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. There, he learned one of his old noncommissioned officers had been killed in Iraq.

    Around the same time, parts of the 2nd Inf. Div. received deployment orders. He could do no less than the mentor who had sacrificed everything, Romesha reasoned. So he went to his colonel and asked to go to Iraq. He didn’t bother to discuss it with his wife. It was just something he had to do.

    A new assignment with the 4th Infantry Division brought a second deployment to Iraq and a new specialty: reconnaissance scout. He had liked armor, but being a scout suited him. “I liked being light. I liked being fast. I liked observing and kind of being the silent overwatch that no one knows is there.”

    He enjoyed teaching his soldiers all of his tricks, too, and was always happy to give pointers, even during his downtime, said now-Sgt. Thomas Rasmussen, who served under Romesha in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Romesha, Rasmussen added, was definitely the best NCO he’s ever had. He was tough and he pushed his soldiers hard, but he was fair and there was never any doubt that he cared about them. His sense of humor was goofy and weird and perhaps even dark, Rasmussen and Avalos agreed. “He’s always the one making stupid jokes,” Rasmussen continued, “or pissing off a lieutenant just to make everyone else laugh, or getting on somebody’s nerves just to lighten the mood or cracking jokes at the most inopportune times.”

    Pictured is a view of Combat Outpost Keating on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in a remote pocket of Afghanistan, known as Nuristan. According to soldiers who called the outpost home, being at Keating was like being in a fishbowl or fighting from the bottom of a paper cup. It was there, surrounded by mountains and insurgents, that former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha and his fellow soldiers fought back the enemy in a fierce 12-hour battle, Oct. 3, 2009. (Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. Brad Larson)The low ground

    Romesha, Rasmussen, Avalos and the other men of Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, arrived in the remote pocket of Afghanistan known as Nuristan in late May 2009, about four months before the attack on Keating. Nestled in the Hindu Kush mountains along the border with Pakistan and cut off from much of the modern world, Nuristan is poor, semiautonomous and home to fiercely independent people suspicious of outsiders.

    Expect to get in a lot of firefights, Sgt. Josh Kirk told his buddies before they deployed. He had already spent a year in the area with the 173rd Airborne Division and warned his new unit that it was extremely dangerous. The local insurgents were nothing like those they’d faced in Fallujah and Ramadi, Iraq, either. Here, the mujahedeen were well trained and well supplied; many of them had honed their military skills fighting the Soviets. Two of the four previous American commanders of Keating had been killed, possibly even targeted, by insurgents.

    Even worse, Kirk explained, COP Keating sat in the worst possible location for an outpost. It sat on the low ground, surrounded by 10,000- and 12,000-foot mountains blanketed with trees and boulders and nearly invisible trails. Even with that warning, the men of B Troop were stunned when they arrived. It was like being in a fishbowl or fighting from the bottom of a paper cup, said then-Sgt. Brad Larson (now a first lieutenant).

    The mountains and the local river were stunning, “beautiful in a way that if there wasn’t a war going on, you could have made a killing off the rapids,” Romesha said. “But tactically speaking, it was pretty dismal. That first morning I remember … thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to have the strongest neck muscles from looking up for an entire year.’” It was hard to explain to his soldiers why they were there, why the Army had stuck them some place that went against every ounce of training they had ever received, as Avalos put it. In the end, it didn’t matter.

    “They all dug deep,” Romesha continued. “They knew it was their duty. It was our job to sit there, and we were going to defend whatever they gave us.”

    That was easier said than done. The enemy attacked almost every day, often multiple times a day, for four months. Rasmussen preferred it that way, however: It was easier on the psyche, he found, to openly shoot back and forth at an enemy than it was to “go driving around in a truck all day waiting to get blown up” by improvised-explosive devises the way they had in Iraq. There were always rumors too, intelligence reports, radio whispers, locals who said insurgents were planning to overrun the outpost. But after the 10th or 20th such report, it was like crying wolf, Romesha explained.

    The Army was planning to close Keating. It was, leaders realized, too hard to defend and the area too dangerous for provincial reconstruction teams. U.S. forces could make better use of Bravo Troop elsewhere. After a few delays, the date was set: Bravo Troop would withdraw in mid-October.

    Even on a good day, life at the football field-sized COP Keating was rough. Most of the buildings were tin roofed structures built of stacked rocks and plywood. The soldiers were lucky to get a hot meal every other day and a hot shower once a week. To pass the time and deal with the unrelenting stress of constant attacks, the men held competitions to see who smelled the worst after a week without a shower, or who could down the most meals ready to eat.

    They talked about how they would overrun a base like Keating, they played cards, they lifted weights, they talked about their families, about what they wanted to do when they got back to Fort Carson, Colo., and they played pranks. During one particularly memorable prank, Larson and Rasmussen (better known as “Raz”) captured one of the ubiquitous wild goats that roamed the area and locked it in their lieutenant’s room while he was sleeping. It was the funniest moment of the deployment, Avalos remembered.

    Larson and Romesha were close, so close that in a firefight they could look at each other from several hundred feet away and know what the other was thinking. It was those friendships that got them through the summer of 2009.

    “We could sit there and talk for hours and not actually say anything,” Romesha explained. “Relying on that friendship and your battle buddies was what you did. You didn’t sit there and reflect on when we were getting hit next. You just knew your training would take over, your NCOs would be there to support you and you’d stick together and you’d come out of it next time.”

    Before former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha and his fellow Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment soldiers arrived at Combat Outpost Keating, nestled in the Hindu Kush mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, they were warned that it was dangerous, and to expect a lot of enemy engagement. They frequently received reports that insurgents planned to overrun the outpost, and on Oct. 3, 2009, those reports became reality. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)Dawn attack

    “Next time” came at dawn on Oct. 3, 2009, when most of the soldiers were jolted awake by a barrage of enemy fire minutes before 6:00.

    “The thing that woke me up was the sound of the B-10 recoilless rifle,” Avalos remembered. “It makes a distinct sound, especially being at the bowl of the mountain. Just the echo of it sounded like a freight train coming. No matter where you were, as soon as that bad boy went off, you woke up.”

    Romesha knew within 20 seconds of that first shot that this attack was different, something more than the daily contact they were used to. This was the attack they had been warned about. “It was just one of those things you could hear in the air,” he said. “The volume that it came in on and the precision it was hitting us at, you just knew. It was just one of those instincts.”

    The bombardment, from B-10s, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, Russian-made Dushkas, mortars, snipers and small arms fire, came from every direction. The insurgents knew exactly what spots to target and pinned down the American mortars almost instantly, all the while carrying out a simultaneous attack to distract the mortars at nearby Outpost Fritsche.

    “Every position was overwhelmed,” Romesha explained. “Every position was pretty much from the get (go) pretty ineffective."

    At first Romesha thought, “Game on! All right, we’ve got a challenge. Come on boys, let’s do this. Let’s get back at them. … As I look back, I was just letting instinct take over. I don’t recall having too much thought other than ‘I’ve got battle buddies out there.’ … It was like a man test, the ultimate man test: Step up to the plate or go home, and we were going to step up to the plate, just to prove the point that we’re better than you. We’re not going to be held down.”

    continue in the PART 2...
    Last edited by SgtJim; 02-11-2013 at 07:39 PM.
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  5. #3

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    Elizabeth Collins wrote a three-part series about former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha’s heroism at the battle of COP Keating, and his transition from soldier to civilian.
    I'm posting now this series, it will be very long, with many great photos, but it is really good.

    all pictures are the originals, not reduced, and all of them got description, just mouse over it!
    --- PART 2 of 3


    ---
    Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha on a mission in Afghanistan in 2009. One of his soldiers credits him with saving the lives of everyone assigned to Combat Outpost Keating on Oct. 3, 2009, after Romesha's actions helped repel a massive enemy assault. He continually exposed himself to enemy fire and his courage, decisiveness and utter calm inspired his soldiers to keep fighting. Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor in a Feb. 11, 2013, White House ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)Romesha leads charge to retake COP Keating
    Story by Elizabeth Collins

    WASHINGTON - Dude, you’re bleeding, Spc. (now Sgt.) Thomas Rasmussen told his acting platoon sergeant, now-former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha. Did Romesha want Rasmussen to patch him up?

    Half surprised, Romesha glanced at his arm. A rocket-propelled grenade had damaged the generator he was using for cover a short time before, peppering the right side of his body with shrapnel. He barely noticed as he unloaded the last of his ammo at some of the roughly 300 insurgents who were trying to overrun Combat Outpost Keating.

    It was partly his fault. He had been so focused on picking off the enemy, positioned above Keating’s location at the bottom of four 10,000-plus-foot mountains, that he broke one of the cardinal rules he drilled into his soldiers: “‘Don’t put the blinders on.’ I had gotten pretty fixated on engaging the enemy (to the north). Enemy was able to skirt in to my right flank.”

    Go ahead, he told Rasmussen, “Just throw a bandage on it real quick.” There was no time for anything else. Barely an hour had passed since the attack started shortly before 6:00 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2009. Three soldiers from Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division were already dead. Others were wounded. Several were unaccounted for. Keating was on fire, and they had lost power when the RPG hit that generator. Enemy insurgents were inside the wire. The Afghan National Army soldiers who had been stationed on the east side of Keating were abandoning their posts.

    “We weren’t even close to being done with the fight at that point,” Romesha said.

    “I’m sorry”

    Soldiers of Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division pause for a photo after a mission in Afghanistan in 2009. Standing, Left to right: Medal of Honor recipient then Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha, then Spc. Thomas Rasmussen, then Sgt. Brad Larson, then 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann, then Pfc. Christopher Jones, Spc. Kugler and Spc. Knight. Kneeling, left to right: Then Sgt. Armando Avalos, Jr., Spc. Zach Koppes, Spc. Gregory, Pfc. Davidson. (Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. Brad Larson)Seven soldiers were trapped outside Bravo Troop’s “Alamo” perimeter, the small section of Keating that U.S. forces still controlled that housed some of the barracks, the tactical operations center and the aid station. One of the men was one of Romesha’s closest friends, Sgt. (now 1st Lt.) Brad Larson, who had just taken over at the LRAS-2 (long range advanced scout surveillance system) Humvee when the attack started. He was pinned down almost immediately, as were Sgt. Justin Gallegos, Sgt. Vernon Martin, Spc. Stephan Mace and Spc. Ty Carter, who arrived at LRAS-2 to either assist or to bring more ammo, something the men needed desperately -- Larson alone went through approximately 1,200 rounds in 10 minutes. Then, enemy shots hit both an M-240 machine gun and a .50-caliber machine gun, rendering them useless. The blanket of bullets was so thick, Larson recalled, that they couldn’t even crack the Humvee’s windows to shoot out with their M-4s. “I had no doubt I was going to die that day,” he said later. One soldier was dead and two others were pinned down at a second location.

    Romesha thought he could help them, but the enemy fire was just too intense. He apologized to the men. He felt terrible for leaving them there, but he would be back. Air support (Apaches and multiple types of fixed-wing aircraft) had finally arrived. He had to trust that they would be OK.

    ormer Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha conducts overwatch in Afghanistan in 2009. Romesha's unit, Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was assigned to a small, primitive combat outpost named Keating in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Nuristan province. Keating sat at the bottom of several 10,000-plus-foot mountains and was extremely vulnerable. Romesha led the charge to retake the outpost when It was nearly overrun by about 300 insurgents on Oct. 3, 2009. He will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in a White House ceremony Feb. 11, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)Closing the gate

    In the meantime, Romesha had insurgents to kick out of Keating, an ammo supply point to secure and a gate to close. He grabbed a Draganov rifle from a wounded ANA soldier – his own M-4 was running low on ammunition – and ran through open fire, as he would many times that day, to check on their one operational gun truck, which Spc. Zach Koppes was manning, alone, while being stalked by an enemy sniper. Romesha played “peek-a-boo in and around the Humvee, trying to pinpoint who was shooting at (Koppes). We kept exchanging fire … and it finally subsided.”

    After stopping along the way to talk to his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann (who was also the acting ground commander), and to kill three insurgents he had found inside the wire, Romesha “played the bullet dodge back to the barracks” and asked for five volunteers to help secure the ASP and retake the entry control point. “They stepped up without hesitation,” he said, calling the soldiers’ actions “amazing.”

    It was an easy decision, Rasmussen said: “The enemy is in your house, so you’re either going to sit there, and they’re eventually going to kill you, or you’re going to fight back.” Romesha’s fighting spirit, his determination and his courage helped too, Rasmussen added. “It made me want to go (on) until I got shot or until we got (Keating) back.”

    Soldiers from Blue Platoon (Romesha was the acting Red Platoon sergeant) were supposed to provide fire support as the six men bounded to the ASP, but fighting on the other side of Keating held them up. By then, “we had pretty much run out of ammunition at all the fighting positions for the MK-19 grenade launchers, the .240 machine guns,” Romesha explained. “We also knew that the enemy being in the wire, it was going to be a close firefight and one of the best things to have on your side is the good old fragmentation grenade. … It was to the point where we neClick image for larger version. 

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    They made it to the ASP without cover fire from the ground. Just as they started divvying out ammo, enemy fighters charged toward the barriers that ringed the ammo point. The fighting was heavy and one soldier was shot in the shoulder, but the men’s fresh supply of fragmentation grenades helped them fight off the attack. “I can’t wait in this position any longer,” Romesha radioed Bundermann, telling him it wasn’t safe for his soldiers. He also worried that insurgents would “start carting off our dead.” They had to close that gate.

    Bundermann sent out another soldier and promised additional help, but once again, Romesha decided to move forward without additional support. Instinct had taken over.

    They had to fight inch by inch to secure the shura building (next to the entry control point) and block off the gate, Rasmussen remembered. Once they were inside, the enemy unleashed a fresh volley of RPGs and B-10 rounds and he started to wonder if they were going to make it.

    “(Romesha) just looked at me and was like, ‘No, bro. Keep your head up. We’re going to make it out of this.’

    “It was like he had already been through that once and he knew exactly what to do to win,” Rasmussen continued. “He was like, ‘We need to do this. We need to do that,’ left and right, and just barking shit out like there’s a study guide for this shit and he’d already mastered it. I was just in awe the whole time. I never questioned anything. When you have someone above you with that much determination and that much confidence and that much skill, you’ll follow him to the gates of Hell with no questions asked and go fight the devil head on.”

    With their new position, they could keep additional insurgents out of Keating. Romesha was able to identify more enemy targets in the neighboring village for the Apache and F-15 pilots. The entire valley shook from the force of 2,000-pound bombs and enemy fire finally began to slow. The tide had started to turn.

    Left to right: Then 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann, then Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha and then Sgt. Brad Larson pose during their deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. They fought a brutal, 12-hour battle against some 300 insurgents who attempted to overrun their small remote base, Combat Outpost Keating, Oct. 3, 2009. For their heroism in repelling the attack, Bundermann and Larson were awarded Silver Stars and Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor in a Feb. 11, 2013, White House ceremony. (Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. Brad Larson)Unaccounted for

    It was time to try to account for their missing soldiers. At some point that morning, Bravo Troop had lost radio contact with the five men at LRAS-2. Another soldier, Sgt. Josh Hardt, had been determined to lead a rescue attempt that quickly became a suicide mission. One soldier was killed in seconds, another was wounded and Hardt had gone missing after radioing in that an RPG was pointed at him.

    The men knew they couldn’t stay at LRAS-2 much longer, but Gallegos and Martin were killed almost as soon as they left the Humvee and headed for cover, and an RPG exploded in front of Mace, leaving him with serious leg and abdominal injuries. Hit in the helmet by a sniper round, Larson continued to provide cover fire, shooting two insurgents who were headed straight for them. “Get back in the truck,” he ordered Carter.

    The two soldiers began to worry that they were the only Americans left alive, that some of the enemy’s unrelenting rounds would pierce the Humvee’s much-weakened armor or that they’d have to crawl to the river and float to another American outpost. Worse, they could see Mace trying to crawl toward them, begging for help.

    Carter wanted to go to him, but Larson made him wait until the Apaches were overhead on a gun run. They patched him up as best they could and finally reached Bundermann on a walkie-talkie Carter found. During a massive air and land bombardment that Romesha was at the forefront of, they grabbed Mace and ran for the aid station. They had been stuck at LRAS-2 all morning, but according to Larson, who immediately went to join Romesha at the shura building, that was the easy part of his day.

    The hard part was recovering the bodies. Romesha led his men through open fire once again until they found Griffin, Martin and Gallegos. The barrage was so intense, that now-Staff Sgt. Armando Avalos had to use Gallegos’ body for cover. The two men were good buddies and he knew it was what Gallegos would have wanted, but it haunts him to this day. No one knew where Hardt was. Larson went to look for him, taking off all his gear so he could run faster, but Hardt wouldn’t be found until after the quick-reaction force arrived about sunset.

    Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha in Afghanistan in 2009. When Combat Outpost Keating was attacked and nearly overrun by around 300 enemy fighters, Oct. 3, 2009, Romesha led the efforts to secure the outpost's ammunition supply point, close the entry control point and recover fallen American soldiers. In recognition of his heroism, President Barack Obama will award Romesha the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony Feb. 11, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)The aftermath

    By the time Romesha learned a medevac was finally on the way for Mace (who had received five buddy-to-buddy blood transfusions, but would die anyway) and that he needed to clear the landing zone, Keating was in shambles. Many of the buildings had burned down, including the operations center, and others were piles of rubble. Shell casings lay everywhere and the bodies of insurgents lay scattered throughout the outpost.

    The men had been fighting for 12 or 13 hours straight and they were exhausted, but there wasn’t time to process what had happened. They had to hold Keating for a few more days before they could finally leave the outpost, then they had to get through the second half of their deployment. The Army sent a psychologist to spend a lot of time with the men of Bravo Troop, to help them talk through the battle. That helped, but most of the men just shut off the pain, the fear and the grief until they got back to Fort Carson, Colo.

    “We just kept on with our day-to-day business, bullshitting and laughing and joking around,” said Rasmussen. “I think we all just kind of suppressed it. … There were still missions at hand and stuff that had to be done. For me personally, it didn’t register until I came back home, like that first week. That’s pretty much all I did, just sit there in amazement.” He still wonders if he could have done anything differently, wonders why he’s alive and eight other soldiers aren’t. So does Larson, who is also still “jumpy.” He just completed flight school and flies Chinooks for the Nebraska National Guard now. That helps. It’s a distraction, at least.

    Avalos, now a recruiter, is sad a lot, angry all the time and has trouble sleeping. He has an appointment with behavioral health in a couple weeks. He owes it to his family, to his soldiers and to himself to get better, he said.

    For his part, Romesha hasn’t noticed any lasting effects, nothing he can’t work through by calling Larson or Rasmussen. But he does have regrets, a lot of them: “I always felt like we could have done just a little bit more, could have been just a little bit faster, could have been just a little bit better. Watching the Soldiers who followed me, they did so much greatness, but for me personally, they threw us a lot and I thought I could do more.”

    The Medal of Honor

    He couldn’t possibly have done more, Larson said. No one could have: “I whole-heartedly believe he single-handedly saved the lives of everybody on that outpost. He took it upon himself to take the COP back. … I’m glad he’s getting an award for it.”

    Romesha’s not getting just any award, he’s getting the highest award for valor the nation can bestow: the Medal of Honor, which President Barack Obama will present to him in a Feb. 11 White House ceremony.

    The news has helped bring the men some much-needed closure.

    “It kind of helped the healing process a little bit, because it finally felt like somebody recognized that it happened,” Rasmussen said. It didn’t just get pushed aside like ‘Aw. Shit. A couple guys got killed. Oh well. Lesson learned. Move on.’ Just acknowledgement that it actually did happen. People busted their asses to survive that day.”

    In some ways, it means more to the Soldiers than it does to Romesha. Like most Medal of Honor recipients, he has mixed feelings about the award. “I was just doing a job. It's just what anyone would have done in that situation. Anyone would have stepped up to the plate. It was just, I happened to be there … but without the platoon pulling together … I couldn't have done what I did.

    “The Medal of Honor is something you don't set out to get or achieve. I don't wear it for myself. I've never been one to sit there and want stuff pinned on my chest, but I wear it for those soldiers. … It's all their heroism that they do on a day-to-day basis that goes unnoticed, that goes unrecognized, but they do it because that's their duty, that's their job and they signed up for it."

    (Editor’s note: Eight soldiers, including Sgt. Josh Kirk, who had first warned the men of Bravo Troop about the dangers at COP Keating, were killed in action during the battle. Another 22 were wounded. Seven Soldiers, including Larson and Rasmussen, received Silver Stars. An Army investigation after the battle faulted four officers at the company, battalion and brigade levels for failing to provide enough manpower and resources to defend Keating and recommended the closure of all small, hard-to-defend outposts.)
    Visit Soldiers Live for part three in the series, about how Romesha has transitioned to life after the Army.

    continue in the PART 3...
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    Elizabeth Collins wrote a three-part series about former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha’s heroism at the battle of COP Keating, and his transition from soldier to civilian.
    I'm posting now this series, it will be very long, with many great photos, but it is really good.

    all pictures are the originals, not reduced, and all of them got description, just mouse over it!
    --- PART 3 of 3


    ---
    Medal of Honor nominee Romesha on life after the Army
    Story by Elizabeth Collins

    WASHINGTON - Former Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha loved the Army. He loved serving. He loved his men. He loved the pride and the honor and the sense of purpose. His grandfather had served in World War II, his father in Vietnam, and they had raised him to serve his country. But a few years ago, his commitment to the military was ending, and like many service members, he had a big decision to make.

    He had done tours in both Kosovo and Korea, deployed to Iraq twice and had just survived an especially grueling and violent assignment in Afghanistan at Combat Outpost Keating with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

    Keating was a rather primitive camp in a tiny valley surrounded by towering mountains in Nuristan province, only a handful of miles from the Pakistan border.

    After almost five months of daily attacks, about 300 insurgents overran the approximately 50-man outpost on Oct. 3, 2009, killing eight soldiers and wounding 22, including Romesha, who was peppered with shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.

    Romesha led the effort to retake Keating – actions for which he will be awarded the Medal of Honor in a Feb. 11, 2013, White House ceremony – but it had been close, much too close.

    Unlike many soldiers, Romesha hadn’t suffered any lasting effects. He didn’t have nightmares or flashbacks or anything he couldn’t work through by talking to a battle buddy, but he couldn’t escape the sense that his luck might be running out. That next flag-draped coffin at Dover Air Force Base, Del., might be his.

    Tammy and Clinton L. Romesha at their wedding in February 2000. Tammy was actually still in high school and Romesha had just graduated from Basic Training. He calls her his moral compass, and said that without her strength, support and independence, he wouldn't have been able to concentrate on the battlefield enough to help save Combat Outpost Keating from being overrun by about 300 insurgents on Oct. 3, 2009. In recognition of his valor, Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor in a Feb. 11, 2013, White House ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)His wife Tammy worried too. After his first deployment to Iraq, she had learned to avoid the news and stay busy, but that October, another wife told Tammy she had heard their men were in trouble.

    Romesha could go weeks without calling home while deployed, because he knew Tammy had everything under control at and it was much easier if he just focused on the mission at hand.

    “That really helps out, knowing that you’ve got someone strong back at home that you don’t have to worry about that stuff and you can concentrate on your mission,” Romesha said. “Her ability to be a strong, independent woman, to take care of the family and to take care of business back here, gave me the ability to take care of business over there with my head in the game, not thinking about what’s going on back here in the States.”

    That could be hard for Tammy, but she understood, and she didn’t want to distract him. This time, however, as she waited four agonizing days for a phone call or worse, a knock on her door, she told herself that no news was good news. She even told her neighbor to watch her house when she had to leave. Then-Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha greets his oldest child, Dessi, now 11. Between assignments in Kosovo and Korea and three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he and his fellow soldiers would save Combat Outpost Keating, Romesha missed much of her childhood. That's one of the reasons he ultimately decided to leave the Army. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)

    He finally called to tell her she was fine, which was all Tammy really cared about. She didn’t hear the full story until months later when he returned home. When she finally did, it scared her all over again.

    “To me, it’s like, ‘How the hell did you survive this time?’” she recalled. “I know he’s great at his job, but I guess I didn’t realize how great he is at his job. He’s really good. He has the ability to prioritize and compartmentalize his feelings, his job. He does what he needs to do at that moment and I can totally give him credit for that one."

    “But my end? My end I’m always thinking, ‘Oh my God. I feel sorry for the families that lost soldiers,’” Tammy said.

    She didn’t really want to go through that again, but she knew how important the Army was to him. It was hiThen Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha greets his oldest child, Dessi, now 11, who is not impressed that her father will receive the Medal of Honor for his heroism after Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, was attacked by some 300 insurgents. She asked if she could stay home instead of attending the Feb. 11, 2013, White House ceremony. The answer was no. Romesha and his wife plan to tell their three children more about his service as they grow up. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)s decision, but Romesha didn’t really want to put her through it again either.

    He had always volunteered for deployments and hard assignments and said he realized he “was being selfish and not being fair” to Tammy and their two daughters. (The high school sweethearts later had a son as well.) He said he was “putting them more or less on the back burner of life, so I made the decision that I would like to be more of a family man, be around a little more often.”

    It was time, he decided, to move on, to find something else to do with his life. Romesha went through the Army Career and Alumni Program, noting “the military has a great system in place to place Soldiers into future employment.”

    He also believed finding a new job was his own responsibility, however. He had to do it for himself. He had to be proactive. So when he heard there were a lot of jobs in the oil industry in North Dakota, he was interested. His sister and her husband were already up there. The jobs paid well, they said. He didn’t need experience, Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha with his son, Colin, who was born after Romesha returned from his 2009 deployment to Afghanistan, where his actions helped save Combat Outpost Keating. Those actions will be recognized with the Medal of Honor in a Feb. 11, 2013, White House ceremony. He misses the Army, he said, but doesn't miss having to leave family. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)either, although his experience as a noncommissioned officer impressed the company that ultimately hired him.

    Kevin Small, the president and chief executive officer of KS Industries, and Romesha’s boss, appreciates veterans’ work ethics for several reasons: Veterans follow instructions, they don’t need a lot of training, they have integrity, they’re dependable and they aren’t afraid of hard work.

    He said, “It really ties to the discipline. When a service member – Clint, for instance - comes to work for us, they truly understand as we try to lay out rules, policies, regulations, things that we have to do in some type of sequence. They follow them very, very well, (and that’s crucial, because) in the type of business we’re in, there’s a tremendous amount of risk.”

    So Romesha and Tammy moved their young family from Fort Carson, Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha with his son, Colin. Colin was born after Romesha returned from his 2009 deployment to Afghanistan, where he led the charge to retake Combat Outpost Keating after enemies breached the wire. Those actions will be recognized Feb. 11, 2013, when President Barack Obama presents Romesha with the Medal of Honor. Although he saw eight of his soldiers die that day, Romesha said he will support his children if they ever want to join the military. It is, after all, a long family tradition. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)Colo., to Minot, N.D., and bought a flood-damaged house in need of renovation. He might have to drive 90 miles each way to get to work and spend weekends working on the house, but he’d be home every night. He could spend time with Tammy – so far they’d spent most of their 10-odd years of marriage apart – and he could watch his kids grow up.

    He started out as a swapper – the “guy who rides in a seat and operates the wand” – on a hydro excavation truck, “basically a high-pressure washer and a vacuum on a semi truck so you can do non-mechanical digging to locate live (oil) lines,” Romesha explained.

    KS Industries then put him through its driver’s training program, and within months he was in charge of scheduling, educating and coaching the crews of five other trucks.Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha feeds his second daughter, Gwen. He deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2009, about five weeks after she was born. Just a few months later, he defended Combat Outpost Keating against about 300 enemy fighters, actions that would earn him the Medal of Honor. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)

    “And then the safety manager of the company, I guess, had had an eye on me for awhile,” he continued, “kind of seeing the traits the Army had given me – knowing how to enforce standards, follow policies and procedures, understand standard operating procedures – and had basically scouted me out to see if I’d switch out to the role of a field safety professional. All the skills that a field safety specialist has are the same ones the military gives NCOs. We do the quality control. We take care of soldiers, or now employees. We make sure they’re wearing their protective equipment when they’re doing hazardous jobs and tasks, just like the military has risk assessments. We ensure policies are being completed … so people don’t have injuries, just like the military has troop-leading procedures to make sure things get followed in a safe and efficient way.”

    He’s good at it, Small said, very good. He was impressed with Romesha before he heard about the Medal of Honor. Now, he’s also honored to have Romesha working for him. He’d never met a Medal of Honor recipient before, and certainly never imagined he’d have one as an employee.

    Left to right: Gwen, Dessi and Colin Romesha, three of the reasons former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha decided to leave the Army. After a 12-hour battle when about 300 insurgents attempted to overrun Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan, Romesha, whose actions to save the COP earned him the Medal of Honor, felt as if his luck was running out. He wanted to be fair to his family, so he transitioned to a civilian job in the oil industry. (Photo courtesy of Clinton L. Romesha)“I was kind of dumbfounded,” when he heard what Romesha had done, he confessed.

    “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the greatest achievement any human could ever be rewarded with. … He went beyond and beyond the call of duty and that’s why he’s being honored. And I’ll tell you what, I am just grateful to have him as part of our organization,” he said, joking that, “If he can do what he did in the battlefield in my safety group, I’ll be at zero. I’ll never have an accident. … We really want to make him a poster child for our organization.”

    Visit https://www.acap.army.mil/ for more information about the Army Career and Alumni Program, and how the services it offers help prepare transitioning Soldiers for life after the Army.

    Editor’s Note: To read about Clint Romesha’s heroism and the battle of COP Keating, please visit http://soldiers.dodlive.mil/2013/02/...e-cop-keating/.
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  9. #5
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    Congratulations, SSG Romesha and thank you for your service. Much respect for being so pious about it and telling the media to remember your friends that paid the price. You've got balls the size of coconuts, and you're gonna have a free lunch from one end of America to the other and public speaking fees for the rest of your days. You've earned it.

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    SgtJim (02-12-2013)
 

 

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