The White House announced this afternoon that President Obama will on February 11th award the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, formerly of 3-61 CAV, for his actions on October 3, 2009, when Combat Outpost Keating was attacked.
I know a little bit about Romesha (ROE-muh-shay) and the attack on COP Keating, having written a book about both, and I am so happy for both Ro and his buddies for this well-deserved honor.
There were many heroes that day, many of whom didn’t survive that attack, but Romesha is without question one of the bravest men I’ve ever known.
Romesha will only be the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He retired from the Army in April 2011 and now lives in North Dakota with his wife and three kids.
In my book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, I decribe Romesha as:
an intense guy, short and wiry, the son of a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Cedarville, California. His parents had hoped he would follow his father into the church leadership, and Romesha had in fact gone to seminary for four years during high school — from five till seven every morning — but ultimately, it just wasn’t for him. He didn’t even go on a mission, a regular rite for young Mormon men. Romesha was better suited to this kind of mission, with guns and joes under his command.
This doesn’t look anything like him, but the Army put it out today:
Here’s a better one, courtesy Sgt. Tom Rasmussen:
Combat Outpost Keating was located at the bottom of three steep mountains just 14 miles from the Pakistan border.
As you may know, on October 3, 2009, up to 400 Taliban — all of whom had the high ground — attacked the outpost. The battle was long and bloody. Eight U.S. troops were killed.
Here are some tidbits about Romesha during that October 3, 2009, battle, from the book.
After Taliban fighters have attacked the camp and reportedly entered it, Romesha:
stood on the deck off the aid station, in a semiprotected space known as the Café.
He’d had enough. He’d been trying to find out what was going on at LRAS‑2 when he spotted three Afghans by the shura building. Two had AK‑47s, the third an RPG. One was wearing camouflage, as the ANA troops often did. He turned to the Latvians, Lakis and Dabolins, who were standing just outside the operations center.
“You don’t have ANA on that side of the camp,” Romesha confirmed.
“No,” said Lakis.
So that was the enemy.
This is a gimme shot, Romesha thought. I couldn’t ask for a better shot. The insurgents walked by Stand‑To Truck 2, where they casually put down their weapons. They had entered Camp Keating unfettered, without being met by an ounce of resistance. One began adjusting his bandanna. They seemed to think the camp had been conquered.
They were wrong. Romesha fired and popped the fighter with the bandanna
through his neck; he fell like a sack of potatoes.
But enough Taliban get inside the camp that the men of Black Knight Troop, 3-61 CAV, begin pulling back and holding on to a few buildings, ceding their own camp to the enemy. Romesha does not accept this.
“We need to retake this fucking camp and drive the fucking Taliban out!” he says.
He runs to Red Platoon barracks.
“We’re about to take this bitch back,” he announced. “I need a fucking group of volunteers.” He got them: Thomas Rasmussen, Mark Dulaney, Josh Dannelley, Chris Jones, and Matthew Miller. They knew they were going to be utterly and completely outgunned, but they had no other option.
The surviving members of Black Knight Troop at Forward Operating Base Bostick, a few days after the 3 Oct 2009 Battle of COP Keating.
Congratulations, Romesha. Looking forward to seeing you.