Medal of Honor Recipient Describes His Actions During Afghanistan Firefight

Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Kyle White described the ferocious 2007 battle in Afghanistan where his heroic actions earned him the nation's highest military decoration Monday on Fox and Friends.

White said he tried to keep his composure as best he could when President Obama awarded him the medal, but all he could think of was were the faces of the men lost that day.

White was only 20 and less than two years into his service at the time, serving as radio telephone operator with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. During the fighting, he was knocked out by an enemy grenade and took shrapnel to the face. He was able to assist his friend, Specialist Kain Schilling, and ultimately save his life, and he also risked his life to try and save badly wounded Sgt. Phillip Bocks, who later died from his injuries.

"It was a firefight that lasted four hours, and from the time the first shot rang out to the time the last service members lifted out of the area, it was over a 20-hour battle," he said. "It was a pretty — it was the worst day of my life and the worst day of the lives of anybody that was there that day."

White said his platoon knew they were heading through a dangerous area and needed to move through quickly, but soon they were taking on heavy enemy fire. 

"It seemed like the entire valley erupted," he said. "I remember it wasn't too long after the first shots, I [felt I] was not going to make it through this because there was way too much — there's too much fire coming in too many different directions and we had no cover and nowhere to go. So part of what I was receiving this award for that day was my good friend, Specialist Kain Schilling was there, and I was able to apply some of that First Aid that's been pounded in our head every day. I was able to stop some of his bleeding."

CBS reported on his honor:

White was serving as a platoon radio telephone operator with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Nuristan Province when his team of U.S. and Afghan National Army soldiers was ambushed by a much larger, more heavily armed Taliban force.

White was knocked unconscious by an enemy RPG, and when he came to, he realized he was separated from most of his platoon. White put himself in the line of fire to assist two of his fellow soldiers who were seriously wounded.

"When you're deployed, [White] later said, those people become your family," Mr. Obama said from the East Room of the White House Tuesday, with White by his side. "His family was tested that day. Not a single one of them returned without injury, and six brave Americans gave their lives."

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Most of White's team had slid down the hill, but White saw that his fellow soldier Spc. Kain Schilling was badly injured after getting shot in the arm. White helped him apply a tourniquet while shielding Schilling from oncoming fire.

"The rounds are still coming in left and right, and cracking right past you," White told CBS News' David Martin. "The amount of fire that was coming in, you know, I did my job I was trained to do, just like everybody else, and I identified how bad the wound was and tried to treat it on the spot. And the amount of blood I saw, I put a tourniquet on his upper arm and then began to return fire to the enemy."

Then White saw that Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks was also wounded badly and unable to join White and Schilling behind the small tree where they were staked out.

White recalled, "I saw him out there, that he was exposed and I said basically ‘screw it' and I got up and ran out to him… I remember thinking to myself I'm not going to make it through this one, you know, because there's just too much fire, and we're caught on the side of a cliff. This is it. If I'm not going to make it, then I'm at least going to try to help somebody until it happens."