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Medal of Honor recipients to give Fort Carson unit priceless birthday gift

By: Tom Roeder and Tony Peck The Gazette
December 5, 2017 Updated: December 5, 2017 at 10:45 am
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photo - Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha pulls his medal out of his jeans pocket before meeting with soldiers Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at Fort Carson. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha pulls his medal out of his jeans pocket before meeting with soldiers Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at Fort Carson. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

A birthday brings presents. And Fort Carson is getting a massive one to honor the 100th anniversary of its 4th Infantry Division.

Two former Fort Carson soldiers will give the Medals of Honor they earned in Afghanistan to the soldiers of the post in a ceremony Thursday afternoon. It's a gift of little monetary value but one of incalculable meaning.

The medals - America's highest award for combat valor - are from Capt. Flo Groberg and Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha. Groberg earned his medal by tackling a suicide bomber in 2012. The blast from the bomber's explosive vest left Groberg with severe injuries, but his action is credited with saving the lives of his comrades.

Romesha earned his medal in the 2009 fight for Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan. Despite shrapnel wounds, Romesha repeatedly rallied his soldiers and braved enemy fire during a 12-hour firefight.

"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.

Groberg, one of 71 living Medal of Honor recipients, said giving away the medal was an easy decision.

"We're giving it to the unit because it belongs to the unit," he said. "Nobody is an individual; we are bound to each other's successes and failures."

The ceremony to accept the medals comes after a year of celebration by Fort Carson to salute the division's history. The celebration started with a cake-cutting ceremony late last year. The planning started even earlier.

"It is deeply important to the command; we started planning this in January of 2016," said Maj. April Moore, a spokeswoman for the division.

"Not only have we infused the anniversary flavor in every ceremony, we started holding history runs where soldiers run to memorial sites and discuss them as a group," Moore said.

The division was formed on Dec. 10, 1917, at Camp Greene, N.C. It has fought through France twice. During World War I, the division participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the last major offensive of the war.

The second trip across the pond resulted in the division spearheading the beach landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, at Utah Beach.

The unit's actions in France were memorialized this past summer, when Maj. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves dedicated a memorial near the Normandy beaches to remember the soldiers of World War II.

Later that month, 100 soldiers from the unit re-enlisted during the Army's birthday celebrations.

While no official announcement has been made, thousands of the division's soldiers are set to head for Afghanistan next year.

They'll have two pieces of history to hold soon.

Groberg, meanwhile, will sign copies of his book "Eight Seconds of Courage" starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes and Noble store at The Citadel mall. He says giving the medal back to Fort Carson's troops is another step in the path he's been on since his encounter with the suicide bomber.

"Life is a sequence of actions and it's about making the most of it," he said. "Now it's about making a difference in people's lives."

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