Great American

Former Staff Sergeant recounts receiving the highest honor.

Recently, I had the privilege of spending time with some great Americans during the National Medal of Honor Day festivities in Washington, D.C., hosted by American Airlines and the National Medal of Honor Foundation. Being in the presence of heroes like Leroy Petry and Barney Barnum that weekend, I was again reminded that members of the U.S. military are just ordinary people doing our job, faced with the opportunity to rise to any challenge. And I was humbled to stand beside them as a fellow recipient.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to serve our country. My granddad was a World War II veteran, my dad served in Vietnam and both of my older brothers served. I spent several summers working on my granddad’s ranch in Nevada, and the way my dad and granddad presented themselves, the values they instilled — just do your job and be you — have stayed with me.

When I joined the Army the day after I turned 18, life was pretty calm and there was a sense that not too many things were on the horizon. During my first deployment from Germany to Kosovo, I saw firsthand what a lack of freedom meant. As a kid with a military background who understood what my dad and granddad did to protect our country, I was honored to be part of a country that values freedom — in particular, honored to be doing so voluntarily, unlike my dad and granddad who were drafted. Following Germany, my assignments included time in Korea, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan and Fort Carlson, Colo.

To learn more about American’s support of the Medal of Honor Foundation, military servicemen and women and veterans, visit

While assigned as a section leader for Bravo Troop, 3-61st Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan, our Troop of 52 awoke to find ourselves outnumbered and out-positioned against an estimated 300 armed enemy fighters. Well, we decided we weren’t going to be beat that day. We fended off enemy fighters, recovered fallen soldiers and facilitated multiple recovery, resupply and counterattack operations that led to securing Combat Outpost Keating.

I always heard stories about Medal of Honor recipients and their actions that merited our nation’s highest military decoration. As an outsider looking in, it was easy to think that there’s no way I could ever do what they did. But in Oct. 2009, 10 years after I enlisted in the U.S. Army, the coin suddenly flipped. As a result of our actions that day, including the eight soldiers who gave their lives saving ours, Bravo Troop was recognized by President Barack Obama at the White House this past February. I was humbled to be presented with the Medal of Honor.

And in Washington, D.C., speaking with other Medal recipients, I was reminded of the same stories my granddad shared with me when I was a child. Those values of service and honor are what I hope to pass along to today’s generation of young people, including my own three children: You, too, have greatness inside you that will allow you to shine when you’re faced with a challenge. You have the opportunity to help change the world.

Former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha was awarded the Medal of Honor in February for his acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving in Afghanistan in October 2009. After separating from the Army in April 2011, he began working as a Field Safety Specialist for an oilfield construction company in North Dakota, where he and his family currently live.


How can we improve our site?