Corporal Kyle Carpenter, US Marine Corps
In early 2014, Kyle Carpenter was announced as only the third Marine to ever receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for valor; it has been awarded to fewer than twenty individuals across all services for recent combat in these regions.
Kyle, originally from Gilbert, South Carolina, was severely wounded in the Helmand province of Afghanistan in 2010 when he threw himself upon a live grenade to shield his friend and fellow Marine during a rooftop attack. Both men were severely wounded but survived due to Kyle’s bravery.
Kyle, now 27, spent nearly two years recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He has endured more than thirty surgeries to repair his teeth, jaw, and arm, and he has had to learn to adapt to the loss of his right eye. In spite of all of this, he keeps his personal experience in perspective: ”I’m still here and kicking, and I have all my limbs, so you’ll never hear me complain.”
Kyle took a temporary hiatus from his studies due to the Medal of Honor proceedings and the scheduling of the award presentation by President Barack Obama, but he has since returned to the University of South Carolina to continue his education in the field of International Studies.