4 times a soldier laughed at the enemy
With small arms fire, mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades from hundreds of Taliban firing at a small US Army outpost in northeastern Afghanistan, Master Sgt. Clint Romesha asked his comrades if there were any volunteers to help him lead a counterattack to retake the front door.
He was surprised by the response – a powerful moment of truth that he would later call the proudest moment in his military career.
Their outpost had been overrun, army soldiers were killed, the remaining fighters were unable to stock up on ammunition, and Taliban fighters had passed through the front door, Romesha said.
“I said I needed a group of volunteers. Five guys who didn’t even know what the plan was and didn’t know what I was going to ask for stood up with sheer guts and determination and said they would follow me anywhere. I told them about the counterattack plan, ”Romesha told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Romesha helped establish suppressing fire so fallen soldiers could be recovered during the attack, destroyed many Taliban fighters passing through the gate, directed air support from Apache helicopters once arrived, and conducted a A hard-hitting counterattack that turned the tide of the deadly battle on this point. morning of October 3, 2009.
Romesha and her comrades, who spent months in a small 52-soldier fighting position in the Afghan province of Nuristan called Combat Outpost Keating, were accustomed to daily attacks from Taliban fighters.
“Suddenly we were inundated with machine guns, mortars and RPGs. We had been there for three months and had been attacked pretty much every day, so it wouldn’t have been unusual to wake up to something like this. When those towers arrived, we knew it was something totally different, ”he explained.
Romesha explained that each defensive position switched to a cyclic rate of fire to try and defend as fast as they could retaliate – but the crushing fire from enemies was too much for them.
“The soldiers started to run out of ammunition on the combat positions and we could not supply them because the outpost was at the bottom of a valley. Every time you go out into the open, you are a target. No matter where we were, bullets were raining down on us, ”he explained.
Romesha’s counterattack plan was both risky and ambitious as he wanted to lead a small team of soldiers to reclaim ammo points, close the front door to flocking Taliban fighters, get to a mortar position. and perform critically important recovery of the casualties of fallen soldiers.
“The lieutenant gave me the green light on the plan. The Taliban fighters who had pierced the wire had started to set all the hard structures of the buildings on fire and set them on fire. The whole outpost was on fire, ”Romesha recalls.
Thanks to the resilience and combat determination of Romesha and other soldiers, they were able to make their way to the outpost’s ammunition supply points and retake the front door. This counterattack surge resulted in a close quarters battle in which Taliban fighters were often within 20 yards, Romesha said.
“We started pushing back the ammunition and strengthening the positions, which gave us a little more freedom of maneuver,” he said.
While this was happening, air support from the Apache attack helicopters arrived with some possible reinforcements from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
While he might not choose to explain it that way, it seems clear from the events of that day that the whole outpost likely would not have survived – and the losses would have survived. been much more important – if Romesha had not shown such courage, spirit and leadership in combat. His counterattack saved the outpost from complete destruction.
As he faced a deadly shootout and risked his life multiple times to save, defend, and recover his fellow soldiers, Romesha was not thinking of battle-day reconnaissance. In fact, upon learning years later that he would receive the Medal of Honor for his heroism during battle, Romesha was surprised.
“It was definitely a team effort that day. Without these 52 guys, I wouldn’t be here. I’d rather die today than take any credit for doing nothing more than doing my job like everyone else was doing, ”he said.
Romesha went on to point out that in his mind the real heroes are the eight soldiers who died in action that day.
“They only left if we don’t remember them. In my humble opinion, the real heroes are the ones who don’t make it home. They are the only ones who deserve this title of hero. They gave up everything and more than we could ever ask of them, ”he explained.
While still reluctant to acknowledge his own heroism on this day in 2009, called the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, Romesha was awarded President Barack Obama’s Medal of Honor in February 2013.
On the day of the battle, Romesha was posted to 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavarly Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He fought alongside his comrades and would like to remember his American comrades who died that day.
In order to recognize and honor Romesha’s emphasis, the names of the eight soldiers who died in the attack are: Vernon Martin, Justin Gallegos, Joshua Kirk, Josh Hardt, Michael Scusa, Stephen Mace, Christopher Griffin and Kevin Thompson.
The intensity of devotion to her comrades, driven by loyalty, love, and protective instinct, inspired Romesha’s actions in combat.
“It was not a day of hatred towards the enemy. The politics didn’t matter. It mattered to those brothers to your left and right – we didn’t fight because we hated the guys who attacked us, we did it more because we liked the guys who were to our left and right . Love will win out over hate and anger any day of the week, ”said Romesha.
Romesha is the son of a Vietnam veteran and the grandson of a WWII veteran. He lives in North Dakota.