Falling on a grenade

Falling on a grenade is the deliberate act of using one's body to cover a live time-fused hand grenade, absorbing the explosion and fragmentation in an effort to save the lives of others nearby. Since this is almost universally fatal, it is considered an especially conspicuous and selfless act of individual sacrifice in wartime; in United States military history, more citations for the Medal of Honor, the country's highest military decoration, have been awarded for falling on grenades to save comrades than any other single act.

Such an act can be survivable: in World War II, U.S. Marine Jack Lucas, in the Battle of Iwo Jima, placed two grenades under his steel M1 helmet and himself before they exploded. Lucas lived, but spent the rest of his life with over 200 pieces of shrapnel in his body. In 2008 near Sangin in Afghanistan, British Royal Marine Matthew Croucher used his rucksack to pin the grenade to the floor; his body armor absorbed the majority of the blast. On November 21, 2010 in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter threw himself upon a grenade, thrown onto a rooftop, to save a fellow Marine, sustaining injuries to his face and right arm and losing his right eye; he survived these wounds. Despite these rare instances, however, the odds of survival are extremely slim. With modern medicine, however, odds are greatly increased when compared to falling on a grenade in the 20th century.

John Andrew Barnes III was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor when he jumped on a grenade to save the lives of wounded comrades in the Vietnam War.[1] United States Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor was also posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after using his body to smother a grenade on a rooftop in Ramadi, Iraq, saving the lives of other SEALs and Iraqi soldiers. Milton L. Olive III was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War on October 22, 1965. At age 18, Olive sacrificed his life to save others by smothering a live grenade. He was the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.

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  1. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21.