Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha Presented the Medal of Honor
by callsign "MOFO" of the Gruntworks TeamYesterday, President Barack Obama presented Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha with the nation's highest award for valor.
“I was just doing my job.”Nearly every recipient of the Medal of Honor uses those words to describe his actions. The requirements for approving the medal clearly suggest otherwise. Perhaps it's the deep sense of duty such men share that frames these actions as a part of the job. Whatever the motivation, it remains that the United States of America does not bestow her most precious decoration on a serviceman for doing his job; it requires an act of such conspicuous gallantry, an act so clearly valorous that no reasonable man could fault him for having chosen not to step up and act. These actions tend to be just short of mythical. The typical Medal of Honor citation is the modern incarnation of the Norse poetry of legend, complete with gritty, seemingly fearless characters, wounded over and over, taking the fight to the enemy in the face of impossible odds. The fact that so many of these stories are told of men who did not survive their valor illustrates how perilous the situation must be to draw such heroism from an otherwise calm, mild-mannered person (as many of these men are described). That said, we do still see the occasional hero walking amongst us, a pale blue ribbon around his neck.
Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha is one of these men, a man described as laid-back, as humble, as funny. Soldiers liked being around him. Regarded as a caring leader, a man who would walk the length of the world with his men, SSG Romesha is the kind of leader never to give up on his men. He works hard, plays hard, trains hard. Just like any other combat arms soldier, he took his job seriously that day. SSG Romesha wasn't just any soldier, though. He didn't just do his job at FOB Keating. He had no orders to continue action. Nobody told him to gather up a team and bring death and misery to the enemy. He was wounded already when he went back out.
SSG Romesha had his own priorities, priorities that didn't involve taking himself out of the fight. This, not because of a death wish, or blood-thirst, but rather the young men who followed him. These men were worthy of leading, worthy of sharing the task of fighting off this determined attack. In the midst of the fight, SSG Romesha never bothered to drop his humor, encouraging and reassuring his men with every smirk.
Handing out purpose, direction, and motivation in what seemed a hopeless fight, SSG Romesha personified every character trait and value we hold as admirable in the military service, then he turned up the volume on each. Refusing to leave a fallen comrade, he placed the lives of men he barely knew ahead of his own. He wasn't fighting to survive; he was fighting to win, and he inspired others to do the same.
If you're looking to see the face of “Lead By Example”, go to North Dakota and find a man who probably answers to “Clint”. Honestly, I don't know him. I've never met him. I only know his story, and that's enough to know that he has earned his place amongst our heroes. His name should be on the lips of everyone who discusses character, courage, sacrifice, or duty.
With that in mind, if you were to ask him about that day in Afghanistan, he'd probably wave it off and mutter something like, “I was just doing my job.”
Alvin York said the same thing.
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