President Barack Obama awards Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter,
U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on August 26, 2013.
Staff Sergeant Carter received the Medal of Honor for his
courageous actions while serving as a cavalry scout with Bravo Troop, 3rd
Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division,
during combat operations in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on
October 3, 2009.
Staff Sergeant Carter is the fifth living recipient to be
awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Video courtesy of the White House
Text of President Barack Obama's Remarks and Associated
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please be seated.
Welcome to the White House. Actually, I should say welcome back. Many of you
joined us earlier this year when we presented the Medal of Honor to Ty Carter for his actions in the very same battle that we remember today.
Clint could not be here. He's engaged this week in a cause that is very close to
all of our hearts -- and that's ending homelessness among our veterans. But we
are honored to welcome back some of the men who fought that day -- at Combat
Outpost Keating, members of Black Knight Troop -- and the Gold Star families of
those who gave their lives that day.
As these soldiers and families will
tell you, they're a family, forged in battle and loss and love. So today is
something of a reunion. And we come together again, with gratitude and pride, to
bestow the Medal of Honor on a second member of this family -- Staff Sergeant Ty
As always, we're joined by many distinguished guests, and we
welcome you all. Today, I want to focus on our most distinguished guests -- more
than 40 members of Ty's family; your parents, Mark, Paula; and stepmom, Barbara;
your wife, Shannon, who you call “the CEO” of your family. You're a wise man.
I've got the same arrangement. (Laughter.) Your beautiful children --
14-year-old Jayden; 8-year-old Madison, in her new dress, and she was telling me
about her new room as we walked over here -- (laughter) -- and 9-month-old
Sehara, for whom we will try to make this brief because we don't know how long
the Cheerios will last. (Laughter.)
Before they came, Ty said he was
hoping to take his children around Washington to show them the sights and the
history. But, Jayden, Madison, if you want to know what makes our country truly
great, if you want to know what a true American hero looks like, then you don't
have too look far. You just have to look at your dad. Because today, he's the
sight we've come to see. Your dad inspires us, just like all those big monuments
and memorials do.
For this is a historic day -- the first time in nearly
half a century, since the Vietnam War, that we've been able to present the Medal
of Honor to two survivors of the same battle. Indeed, when we paid tribute to
Ty Carter earlier this year, we recalled how he and his team provided the
cover that allowed three wounded Americans -- pinned down in a Humvee -- to make
their escape. The Medal we present today, the soldier that we honor -- Ty Carter
-- is the story of what happened in that Humvee. It's the story of what our
troops do for each other.
As some of you may recall, COP Keating was not
just one of the most remote outposts in Afghanistan, it was also one of the most
vulnerable -- on low ground, deep in a valley, surrounded by towering mountains.
When soldiers like Ty arrived, they couldn't believe it. They said it was like
being in a fishbowl -- easy targets for enemies in the hills above. And as dawn
broke that October morning, with Ty and most of our troops still in their bunks,
their worst fears became a reality.
Fifty-three American soldiers were
suddenly surrounded by more than 300 Taliban fighters. The outpost was being
slammed from every direction -- machine gunfire, rocket-propelled grenades,
mortars, sniper fire. It was chaos -- the blizzard of bullets and steel -- into
which Ty ran, not once or twice, or even a few times, but perhaps 10 times. And
in so doing he displayed the essence of true heroism -- “not the urge to surpass
all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
Ty jumped out of bed, put on his boots and his helmet and his Kevlar vest,
grabbed some ammo and he ran -- into bullets coming down like rain, for a
hundred meters -- to resupply his comrades out in that Humvee. When they needed
more, he ran back, blasted the locks off supply rooms and sprinted yet again --
dodging explosions, darting between craters -- back to the Humvee.
ferocious fire forced them inside. And so it was that five American soldiers --
including Ty and Specialist Stephan Mace -- found themselves trapped in that
Humvee, the tires flat, RPGs pouring in, peppering them with shrapnel,
threatening to break through the armor of their vehicle. And, worst of all,
Taliban fighters were penetrating the camp. The choice, it seemed, was simple --
stay and die, or make a run for it.
So once more, Ty stepped out into
the barrage, and along with Sergeant Brad Larson, he laid down fire, providing
cover for the other three -- including Stephan -- as they dashed for safety. But
in those hellish moments, one man went down, and then another. And Stephan
disappeared into the dust and smoke. Back in that Humvee, Ty and Brad held
out, for hours; rolling down the window, just a crack, taking a shot, over and
over; holding the line, preventing that outpost from being completely overrun.
Ty would later say, “We weren't going to surrender.” We were going to fight “to
the last round.” And then they saw him -- their buddy, Stephan -- on the ground,
wounded, about 30 yards away.
When the moment was right, Ty stepped out
again and ran to Stephan, and applying a tourniquet to one of his legs,
bandaging the other, tending to his wounds, grabbing a tree branch to splint his
ankle. And if you are left with just one image from that day, let it be this: Ty
Carter bending over, picking up Stephan Mace, cradling him in his arms, and
carrying him -- through all those bullets -- and getting him back to that
And then Ty stepped out again -- recovering a radio, finally
making contact with the rest of the troop, and they came up with a plan. As
Ty Carter and his team provided cover, these three soldiers made their
escape -- Ty, Brad carrying Stephan on a stretcher, through the chaos,
delivering Stephan to the medics.
And the battle was still not over, so
Ty returned to the fight. With much of the outpost on fire, the flames bearing
down on the aid station, with so many wounded inside, Ty stepped out, one last
time, exposing himself to enemy fire; grabbed a chainsaw, cut down a burning
tree, saved the aid station, and helped to rally his troop as they fought, yard
by yard. They pushed the enemy back. Our soldiers retook their camp.
Ty says, ”This award is not mine alone.” The battle that day, he will say, was
“one team in one fight,” and everyone “did what we could do to keep each other
alive.” And some of these men are with us again. And I have to repeat this
because they're among the most highly decorated units of this entire war: 37
Army Commendation Medals, 27 Purple Hearts, 18 Bronze Stars for their valor,
nine Silver Stars for their gallantry.
So, soldiers of COP Keating,
Today, we also remember once more the eight
extraordinary soldiers who gave their last full measure of devotion -- some of
whom spent their final moments trying to rescue Ty and the others in that
Humvee. And we stand with their families, who remind us how far the heartbreak
ripples: Five wives -- widows -- who honor their husbands. Seven boys and girls
who honor their dad. At least 17 parents -- mothers and fathers, stepmoms and
stepdads -- who honor their son. Some 18 siblings who honor their brother. Long
after this war is over, these families will still need our love and support --
for all the years to come.
And I would ask the COP Keating families to
stand and be recognized, please.
Finally, as we honor Ty's
courage on the battlefield, I want to recognize his courage in the other battle
he has fought. Ty has spoken openly -- with honesty and extraordinary eloquence
-- about his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress -- the flashbacks, the
nightmares, the anxiety, the heartache that makes it sometimes almost impossible
to get through a day. And he's urged us to remember another soldier from COP
Keating who suffered, too, who eventually lost his own life back home, and who
we remember today for his service in Afghanistan that day -- Private Ed
At first, like a lot of troops, Ty resisted seeking help.
But with the support of the Army, the encouragement of his commanders, and most
importantly, the love of Shannon and the kids, Ty got help. The pain of that
day, I think Ty understands, and we can only imagine, may never fully go away.
But Ty stands before us as a loving husband, a devoted father, an exemplary
soldier who even redeployed to Afghanistan.
So now he wants to help
other troops in their own recovery. And it is absolutely critical for us to work
with brave young men like Ty to put an end to any stigma that keeps more folks
from seeking help. So let me say it as clearly as I can to any of our troops or
veterans who are watching and struggling: Look at this man. Look at this
soldier. Look at this warrior. He's as tough as they come. And if he can find
the courage and the strength, to not only seek help, but also to speak out about
it, to take care of himself and to stay strong, then so can you. So can you.
And as you summon that strength, our nation needs to keep summoning the
commitment and the resources to make sure we're there when you reach out.
Because nobody should ever suffer alone. And no one should ever die waiting for
the mental health care they need. That's unacceptable. And all of us have to do
better than we're doing.
As Ty knows, part of the healing is facing the
sources of pain. As we prepare for the reading of the citation, I will ask you,
Ty, to never forget the difference that you made on that day. Because you helped
turn back that attack, soldiers are alive today -- like your battle buddy in
that Humvee, Brad Larson, who told us, “I owe Ty my life.” Because you had the
urge to serve others at whatever cost, so many Army families could welcome home
their own sons. And because of you, Stephan's mother Vanessa, who joins us again
today, is able to say “Ty brought Stephan to safety, which, in the end, gave him
many more hours on this Earth. Stephan felt at peace.” And she added, in the
words that speak for all of us, “I'm grateful to Ty more than words can
describe.” That's something.
God bless you, Ty Carter, and the soldiers
of the Black Knight Troop. God bless all our men and women in uniform. God bless
the United States of America.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you
very much, everybody. I hope you all enjoy the reception. I want to not only
thank Ty, but once again thank his extraordinary family, thank his unit, and
thank all of you for us being able to acknowledge the extraordinary sacrifices
that our men and women in uniform make every single day. And Ty is
representative of exactly the kind of people and the quality of people who are
serving us. We are grateful to them.