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Former Fort Carson soldiers say Medal of Honor changed their lives

November 8, 2015 Updated: November 8, 2015 at 4:30 am
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Fort Carson soldiers listen as Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha, right, answers their questions Wednesday, January 28, 2015 during a luncheon at Fort Carson. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

The two other Medal of Honor recipients from Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team say they've only become busier in the months since they were given the nation's highest honor for battlefield valor.

Former Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha is putting the finishing touches on a book - "Red Platoon" - that will tell the story of his comrades who battled to defend an American outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal River Valley. He said a special focus of the book will look at the eight men who died during that 2009 battle.

"We've been working on the book for the past 15 months," Romesha said from his home in Minot, N.D.

Former Staff Sgt. Ty Carter spends three weeks a month on the road telling groups about the battle and the mental wounds that linger.

"I speak about leadership, and I speak about trust," Carter said in a phone interview during a stop in Los Angeles. "Mainly, I speak to first responders and military about the hidden wounds of war."

On Oct. 3, 2009, both soldiers were at Combat Outpost Keating with the brigade's 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment when the 50 Americans at the outpost were attacked by more than 300 Taliban fighters. Both showed heroism during a battle that lasted more than 12 hours.

Despite shrapnel wounds, Romesha repeatedly rallied his soldiers and braved enemy fire during the battle.

"Staff Sgt. Romesha's heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers," the citation accompanying Romesha's medal reads. "His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating."

Carter braved enemy fire to rescue wounded comrades.

"With complete disregard for his own safety and in spite of his own wounds, he ran through a hail of enemy rocket propelled grenade and machine gun fire to rescue a critically wounded comrade who had been pinned down in an exposed position," Carter's citation reads.

Carter and Romesha said the medal they earned in the battle changed their lives.

"I think normal gets shifted," Romesha said. "It is a new set of challenges and a new set of opportunities."

Carter, a self-described introvert, said he had to become comfortable with public speaking and answering questions.

"As soon as I received the medal, a whole lot of things changed," he said.

Carter's talk, delivered dozens of times now to groups around the country, focuses on the 2009 fight.

"I don't recommend that everyone stand up in front of a group of strangers and talk about the worst day of their lives," Carter said.

He hopes the talks get more people to seek help when they struggle to recover from life events.

"It helps me grow every time I speak about it," he said.

Romesha has done a lot of speaking, too. His Medal of Honor is brown with tarnish from the thousands of hands that have touched it since he received it.

He said he has learned a lot about the courage and heroism of everyday Americans, especially the troops who filled his shoes.

"It's great to see all the young men and women stepping up to the challenge," he said.

Carter and Romesha said they're glad to welcome a third Fort Carson Afghanistan veteran into their elite fraternity.

While neither served with Capt. Florent "Flo" Groberg, who will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Thursday, both said they're impressed by his deeds.

"We have a lot of great examples of character and values around this nation," said Romesha, who plans to attend Groberg's White House ceremony.

Carter said it's humbling to hear other stories of valor.

"In my eyes, I think these men had it 10 times worse than we had it," Carter said.

Romesha plans to use the proceeds of his book, due out by Father's Day 2016, to bring together all the heroes who fought at Keating. He hopes the annual gathering will keep the memories of the men who died alive while helping the survivors heal.

"I hope it will be an annual thing," he said. "Kind of like the Doolittle raiders."

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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