Updated: February 21, 2014 at 11:15 am
PUEBLO - Just over a year after President Barack Obama hung the nation's highest award for gallantry around his neck, former Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha came home - at least his home away from home.
The man who earned the Medal of Honor while serving with Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan says that a year later he still finds the adulation overwhelming.
"I don't know if I have words to describe it," he said.
He was happy to be back in the town where his family spent five years while he served in the brigade's 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment.
"It's great to be back here in Pueblo," he said.
Romesha was drawn back to see his portrait hung alongside those of 144 other Medal of Honor recipients at the Center for American Values on Pueblo's Riverwalk.
Romesha earned the medal on Oct. 3, 2009, when he and an outnumbered group of Fort Carson troops faced an hours-long onslaught from Taliban fighters at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley.
After suffering shrapnel wounds, Romesha continued to defend the outpost and pulled wounded comrades from a hail of enemy fire.
"Staff Sergeant Romesha's heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers," his Medal of Honor citation 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."
In the same battle, Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Ty Carter also earned the medal for braving enemy fire in a bid to rescue a wounded comrade.
Taliban fighters held the high ground around the outpost, which was later deemed "indefensible." Eight Fort Carson soldiers died in the daylong fight.
Addressing Fort Carson soldiers last week, Romesha told them that the medal didn't make him special.
"I was no different than any one of them," he said. "I was just a regular soldier."
Romesha's ties to Pueblo add to a heritage in the city, which proclaims itself to be the home of four other Medal of Honor recipients.
The center, co-founded by Medal of Honor recipient Drew Dix, seeks to educate people on the human qualities that make America great, especially valor and self-sacrifice.
"It's not just about the medal," Dix said at the event. "It is more about what these individuals did at a time in their life that shows that an American can go beyond to do things for others. No matter where you are and what you do in life you can go beyond to help others."
Romesha now lives in North Dakota. He was working in the oil business after leaving the Army in 2011. Since being awarded the medal, he has been speaking and traveling.
The father of three said the honor at the center was great. A cheering crowd packed the center to greet him.
Tim Bartlett, a veteran and volunteer at the center, said Romesha's presence in the gallery of heroes will help generations of Pueblo children understand something about their town.
"When they start hearing the stories, that's when they realize they are from a special place," Bartlett said.
Romesha didn't give remarks at the event, but posed for photographs and signed autographs.
His family reconnected with friends, including elementary school pals.
"We'll always have our heart here in Pueblo," he said.