Medal of Honor recipient's former commander recalls his heroism
POSTED: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 6:05pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 6:31pm
FORT KNOX, Ky — Values are defined as a person's principles or standards of behavior. From private to general, those who serve in the Army are expected to live by its core values -- loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
Every leader seeks to be an example of these values and expects their subordinates to internalize and exhibit them, said Col. Bill Ostlund, currently the commander of 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, when asked about the attributes of Kyle White, a former Army sergeant who received the Medal of Honor today, at the White House.
White was a radio telephone operator assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, when Ostlund was the battalion's commander and Command Sgt. Major Bradley K. Meyers, senior non-commissioned officer, 3rd IBCT, was the battalion's command sergeant major.
It was announced April 15, White would receive the nation's highest award for valor for his actions during his deployment to Afghanistan, in 2007. White will be the seventh living servicemember to receive the MoH and the second Soldier from the "ROCK" battalion to do so.
"Kyle was in an ambush west of Aranas, Nuristan, and north of Combat Outpost Bella," Ostlund said. "Although 14 U.S. service members were killed or wounded, to include the platoon leader, Kyle (took) control of the fight and medical evacuation for several hours before being evacuated. He saved numerous lives and prevented the enemy from capturing any Americans or equipment."
It is also important to note, Ostlund said, the Paratroopers, air crews -- attack, medical evacuation teams and bombers -- surged to support Kyle and were phenomenal reminders that no one fights or dies alone.
White was subsequently evacuated, but returned after a few days and completed the 15-month tour.
After he left the unit, Ostlund said he has stayed in continuous contact with White through phone conversations and frequent emails. He stated he is proud of his individual actions but also immensely proud of his humility and service since.
"This recognition will only provide a means for Kyle to continue to serve others," Ostlund said. "The award recognizes Kyle but also the men that fought -- and the six that died -- with Kyle. The award adds to the legacy of a phenomenal company and battalion."
About Kyle's former company, the "Chosen" company, Ostlund said, "They are one of the most decorated companies in the Global War (on Terrorism) and they have a final award pending," Ostlund said. "Kyle was in a good company, as was Staff Sgt. Salvadore Giunta, who was also a part of the "ROCK," and was the first living Medal of Honor awardee since Vietnam."
To date, Chosen company has received a Presidential Unit Citation and a Valorous Unit Award. Individual awards of those in its ranks include a Medal of Honor, two Distinguished Service Crosses, 16 Silver Stars and 66 Purple Hearts from half the company being killed or wounded during their 15-month tour.
"On that day and many others we were very fortunate to have, then-Capt. Matt Myer commanding such valiant men," Ostlund said.
Myer currently serves as the operations of officer of 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, in 3rd IBCT and is one of the 16 Silver Star awardees.
(Photo: U.S. Army)