Soldier with Pierce County roots to get Medal of Honor

McClatchyApril 15, 2014 

WASHINGTON — A former Bonney Lake man will receive the Medal of Honor for his valor fighting in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, the White House announced Tuesday. President Barack Obama will present the award to former Army Sgt. Kyle White on May 13 at a White House ceremony.

White, who works as an investment analyst in Charlotte, N.C., is getting the honor for heroic actions during combat in the mountainous terrain in Aranas, Afghanistan, on Nov. 9, 2007.

The only child of a couple employed by Boeing, White grew up in Bonney Lake. His father was a Vietnam era Special Forces veteran, according to the Army. The younger White enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from high school, USA Today reported. He left the Army in 2011,

White was serving as a radio-telephone operator in 2007 when his platoon was ambushed during a planned meeting with village elders. According to the Army’s official account of the evening, an explosion from a rocket-propelled grenade knocked White unconscious, but he awoke to help save the lives of soldiers during a deadly four-hour firefight that left six Americans dead.

White suffered two concussions, got shrapnel in his face and was cut off from his platoon during the fight, according to the account. Yet he fought to stay awake and engaged the enemy. He sprinted several times into a 33-foot space, enemy rounds ricocheting around his feet, to get to a wounded Marine and drag him to safety. He used his rifle to keep the enemy at bay while treating another soldier who had been badly injured by a shot in the arm.

“During a long dark night, Spc. White’s uncommon valor and perseverance saved lives,” Lt. Col. William B. Ostlund, battalion commander, Task Force Rock, said in a 2008 statement. “Extraordinary and consistently selfless actions by a young paratrooper.”

The Medal of Honor is awarded to service members who distinguish themselves by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. White is the seventh living recipient to be awarded the highest military award for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Born in Seattle, White enlisted in the Army in February 2006 as an infantryman. After completing his training at Fort Benning, Ga., he was assigned to Vicenza, Italy, with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, as a grenadier and rifleman, which included a combat tour to Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008.

For his service, White also has received the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among many others.
“Sgt. White’s bravery and heroism in combat are a testament to his commitment to service and dedication to his country,” said U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. “I know that North Carolina is better, safer and stronger because of his service.”

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