By Tony Oliva
Cpl Kyle Carpenter only had a split second to make a choice. He could either think only of himself and flee from a dangerous situation or literally jump headlong into danger in order to protect his fellow Marine.
Cpl Carpenter chose the latter.
On November 21st of 2010, Carpenter and his squad were securing Patrol Base Dakota against the Taliban in the southern part of Afghanistan. It was in this push to secure a stronger presence in the volatile region where he and fellow Marine, LCpl Nicholas Eufrazio, found themselves on a rooftop in an overwatch position. Around 10am insurgents pressed an attack and started throwing grenades, one of which landed in the middle of Carpenter and Eufrazio’s rooftop nest.
It was in that split moment that Carpenter leapt into action and ”distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Carpenter threw his body in front of Eufrazio and took the brunt of the explosion squarely himself.
His sacrifice included the loss of his right eye, injuring his left, blowing out both of his eardrums, most of his teeth were knocked out with much of his jaw with it. His right arm was shattered, his left arm, wrist and hand had multiple breaks, his right lung collapsed and he had shrapnel wounds in his legs.
Being a hero isn’t all about Hollywood endings and parades. There comes a cost with being a hero…
Before losing consciousness Carpenter recounts the last things he remembered: The impact felt like his face and body had been hit with a two-by-four, he said, his vision was blurry and there was a loud ringing in his ears. The blood felt like warm water flowing over his face, and as he ran his tongue around his mouth, he couldn’t feel his jaw.
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