Clinton LaVor "Clint" Romesha (/'rɔʋməʃeɪ/; born August 17, 1981) is a former United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Battle of Kamdesh in 2009 during the war in Afghanistan.
|Clinton LaVor Romesha|
Romesha at his Medal of Honor ceremony in 2013
August 17, 1981 |
Lake City, California, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1999–2011|
|Unit|| 61st Cavalry Regiment,
4th Infantry Division
War in Afghanistan (WIA)
|Awards|| Medal of Honor
|Other work||Field safety specialist|
Born into a family with a strong military background, Romesha joined the U.S. Army in 1999, and was posted at various times in Germany, South Korea and Colorado. Trained as an M1 Abrams tank crewman, Romesha had seen four deployments, including to Kosovo, Iraq twice, and Afghanistan. On October 3, 2009, he was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, deployed to Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan. When a force of 300 Taliban insurgents attacked the base, Romesha was credited with rallying his comrades and leading the counterattack, directing close air support and providing suppressive fire to help the wounded to an aid station. Despite being wounded, Romesha continued to fight through the 12-hour battle.
Romesha left the Army in 2011 to spend more time with his family. He later took a job in the oil industry in North Dakota. On February 11, 2013, he received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama.
Early life and educationEdit
Romesha was born in August 1981 in Lake City, California, to a family with a strong military background. His grandfather, Aury Smith, is a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of Normandy. His father is a Vietnam War veteran who later became a church leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romesha is the fourth of five siblings, including two brothers who also joined the military. He is a member of the LDS Church and attended seminary for four years during high school but ultimately decided not to become a missionary for the church as his family had hoped he would. Romesha grew up in Lake City, where he developed an avid love of hockey.
Romesha enlisted in the United States Army in September 1999 and underwent Basic Combat Training and later Advanced Individual Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Trained to be an armor crewman for the M1 Abrams tank, Romesha was first assigned as a tank gunner in Company B, 1st Battalion, 63d Armor Regiment, 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and posted at Rose Barracks, Germany. During this posting he deployed to Kosovo as part of the Kosovo Force. His next assignment was as a gunner/assistant tank commander with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 72d Armor Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea. After a former mentor was killed in Iraq, Romesha volunteered for a tour supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom when parts of his unit received redeployment orders.
Next, Romesha was assigned as section leader with Troop B, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. There, he completed the Long Range Reconnaissance Course, the Advanced Leader Course, and Air Assault Training. Trained as a Cavalry Scout, Romesha saw his second deployment to Iraq in this unit.
In May 2009, Romesha's unit deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. His unit was assigned to Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province in Eastern Afghanistan. It replaced the outgoing 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at the remote outpost in the mountains of a semiautonomous area of the country. Keating was located in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, and over the course of the deployment, it came under attack regularly. U.S. commanders opted to close the outpost by October 2009, considering it indefensible. During the deployment, Romesha was given the nickname "Ro" by his comrades. He was noted for his sense of humor and calm temperament in the difficult deployment.
Medal of Honor actionEdit
On October 3, 2009, according to a report published by U.S. Army historian Richard S. Lowry, Taliban fighters launched a coordinated attack on the outpost from three sides at about 06:00, capturing its ammunition depot. Some 300 fighters participated in the attack armed with a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns, and small arms, badly outnumbering the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence of about 85 U.S. Army, Afghan National Army and Latvian Army soldiers, and the 35 Afghan soldiers who abandoned their positions. It would later be known as the Battle of Kamdesh.
During the first three hours of the fight, the U.S. troops remained under intense mortar and small arms fire, before the Taliban fighters breached the compound and set fire to it. Romesha moved under heavy fire to reconnoiter the area and seek reinforcements from a nearby barracks, helping the ISAF force to regroup and fight despite being targeted by a Taliban sniper. Romesha led the firefight to reclaim the depot, organizing a five-man team to counterattack while still under fire. He then neutralized one of the Taliban fighters' machine gun teams. While engaging a second, he took cover behind a generator which was struck by a rocket propelled grenade, and Romesha was wounded in the neck, shoulder and arms by shrapnel. Despite being wounded, Romesha directed air support that killed an estimated 30 Taliban and then took out several more Taliban positions himself. He provided suppressive fire to allow three other wounded American soldiers to reach an aid station and then recovered several American casualties while still under fire. Romesha's efforts allowed the troop to regroup and fight off a force superior in numbers. The fight lasted 12 hours, and eight American soldiers were killed, making the engagement one of the costliest for ISAF forces during the war. Nine soldiers were decorated with Silver Star Medals for the fight. Several days later, the ISAF forces withdrew from the post.
Romesha received the award from President Barack Obama in an award ceremony at the White House on February 11, 2013. He is the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (following Salvatore Giunta, Leroy Petry, and Dakota Meyer), and the eleventh overall for these campaigns.
Romesha was only able to contact his wife four days after the battle, and later noted she was greatly upset when hearing the full story of his actions at Kamdesh. In an interview later with Soldiers Live, Romesha said he felt he "was being selfish and not being fair" having volunteered for so many deployments away from his wife and children. Following the Afghanistan deployment, Romesha went through the Army Career and Alumni Program in preparation to separate from the Army. On April 4, 2011, Romesha left the military in order to spend more time with his family.
Following military service, Romesha moved to North Dakota, where his sister lived, to look for a job in the oil industry. He moved to Minot, North Dakota and purchased a 100-year-old, flood-damaged home that he is restoring himself. He took a job at KS Industries, an oil field construction firm. Initially crewing a hydro excavation truck, he went through a driver's training program and later began managing the crews of six other trucks. He currently works as a field safety specialist for KS Industries. His exploits during the firefight were later written about by journalist Jake Tapper in his book, The Outpost.
In a press conference on January 16, 2013 shortly after being notified he would receive the medal, Romesha played down his actions in the conflict, noting many other veterans who had received more serious injuries in the battle. Romesha noted that he did not suffer post-traumatic stress disorder or other lasting psychological injuries from deployment, but that others he knew during the deployment did.
On February 11, 2013, Romesha received the Medal of Honor at a ceremony held at the White House. After receiving the award, when speaking to the press wearing his Stetson, Romesha stated he felt "conflicted" about receiving the medal due to the loss of those who died while serving with him.
In the days following the award, Romesha was recognized in a number of other events. He was inducted into The Pentagon's "Hall of Heroes" on February 12, and traveled to New York City on February 17 to visit with the cast of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway, hosted by the USO. He was recognized by Governor of North Dakota Jack Dalrymple in an event at the North Dakota State Capitol on February 21, 2013. On March 2, Romesha spoke at the military ball of the ROTC program at University of North Dakota. Since then Romesha keeps the Medal of Honor on him. It has some tarnish and wrinkles on it from being carried everywhere, shown to and handled by many.
He married Tamara Romesha on February 13, 2000. They met in junior high school and began dating several years later. The couple have three children; Dessi, Gwen, and Colin. Friends describe Romesha as having a sense of humor and being "intense, short and wiry."
Awards and decorationsEdit
During his military career, Romesha received a number of decorations. He is authorized to wear three service stripes, six Overseas Service Bars, as well as the former wartime service Combat Service Identification Badge for the 4th Infantry Division and the Distinctive Unit Insignia of the 61st Cavalry Regiment. Romesha's military decorations include the following awards:
|Right Breast||Left Breast|
|Valorous Unit Award||Meritorious Unit Commendation|
|Combat Action Badge|
|Medal of Honor||Bronze Star Medal|
|Purple Heart Medal||Army Commendation Medal w/ two Oak Leaf Clusters||Army Achievement Medal w/ four Oak Leaf Clusters|
|Army Good Conduct Medal w/ three bronze loops||National Defense Service Medal||Kosovo Campaign Medal w/ service star|
|Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars||Iraq Campaign Medal w/ three service stars||Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal w/ service star|
|Global War on Terrorism Service Medal||Korea Defense Service Medal||NCO Professional Development Ribbon w/ award numeral 2|
|Army Service Ribbon||Army Overseas Service Ribbon w/ award numeral 5||NATO Medal for Kosovo w/ service star|
|Air Assault Badge|
Medal of Honor citationEdit
Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Section Leader with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. On that morning, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to conduct a reconnaissance of the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner. Staff Sergeant Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds. Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers. Staff Sergeant Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter. While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Staff Sergeant Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center. As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters. After receiving reports that seriously injured Soldiers were at a distant battle position, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his team provided covering fire to allow the injured Soldiers to safely reach the aid station. Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, his team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of their fallen comrades. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers. His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s discipline and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army.
- Eloise Ogden (January 12, 2013). "Minot man to receive Medal of Honor". Minot Daily News. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- Medal of Honor Profile: Clinton L. Romesha, United States Army, February 11, 2011, retrieved February 11, 2011
- Collins, Elizabeth M. (February 5, 2013), COP Keating battle begins, Medal of Honor nominee Romesha takes action, Washington, D.C.: United States Army, retrieved February 7, 2013
- Connor, Tracy (January 11, 2013), Afghan battle hero Clinton Romesha to receive Medal of Honor, New York City, New York: MSNBC, retrieved January 12, 2013
- Hlad, Jennifer (January 11, 2013), Fourth living veteran of Afghanistan war to receive Medal of Honor, Washington, D.C.: Stars and Stripes, retrieved January 12, 2013
- President to award Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan, Washington, D.C.: United States Army, January 11, 2013, retrieved January 12, 2013
- Stafford, Matt (January 15, 2013), Remembering valor in action; Ft. Carson soldier set to receive Medal of Honor, Colorado Springs, Colorado: KOAA-TV, archived from the original on February 16, 2013, retrieved January 17, 2013
- Tan, Michelle (January 11, 2013). "Hero of COP Keating battle to receive MoH". Army Times. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
- Rogers, Jakob (January 13, 2013), Medal of Honor recipient sees a whirlwind of attention, Colorado Springs, Colorado: KOAA-TV, archived from the original on February 16, 2013, retrieved January 17, 2013
- Collins, Elizabeth M. (February 6, 2013), Medal of Honor nominee Romesha leads charge to retake COP Keating, Washington, D.C.: United States Army, retrieved February 7, 2013
- President Obama to Award Medal of Honor, White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 11, 2013, retrieved January 17, 2013
- Collins, Elizabeth M. (February 7, 2013), Medal of Honor nominee Romesha talks life after Army, Washington D.C.: United States Army, retrieved February 10, 2013
- Lammers, Dirk (January 16, 2012), Army veteran credits Medal of Honor to platoon's valor, Washington, D.C.: Associated Press, archived from the original on January 20, 2013, retrieved January 17, 2012
- Jennifer Griffin (February 11, 2013). "Army vet receives Medal of Honor for leadership during Afghanistan fight". Fox News. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Leo Shane III (February 11, 2013), "Army veteran Clinton Romesha receives Medal of Honor for Afghan fight", Stars and Stripes, retrieved February 12, 2013
- Photo Flash: SPIDER-MAN Cast Welcomes Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha, New York City, New York: Broadway World, February 17, 2013, retrieved February 24, 2013
- State Honors ND Medal of Honor Recipient, Bismarck, North Dakota: WDAZ-TV, February 21, 2013, archived from the original on April 12, 2013, retrieved February 24, 2013
- "Romesha set to speak at university event". Army Times. Associated Press. March 2, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Roeder, Tom (January 29, 2015). "Former Fort Carson soldier a humble Medal of Honor recipient". The Gazette. Colorado Springs, Colorado. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- Roper, Peter (January 16, 2013), Medal of Honor recipient downplays heroic actions; family has fond Pueblo memories, Pueblo, Colorado: The Pueblo Chieftain, retrieved January 17, 2013
- LTC Stewart L. Stephenson, Jr. (June 9, 2010), "Permananent Orders 160-1" (PDF), Center of Military History, United States Army, retrieved February 13, 2013
- LTC Stewart L. Stephenson, Jr. (July 22, 2010), "Permananent Orders 203-13" (PDF), Center of Military History, United States Army, retrieved February 13, 2013
- "Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha:Official Citation". United States Army. Retrieved February 11, 2013.