By Nedra Pickler
WASHINGTON – An Afghanistan war veteran who absorbed the blast of a grenade to protect a fellow Marine will receive the medal of honor next month, becoming the eighth living recipient for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.
President Barack Obama will present the medal to retired Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter during a White House ceremony on June 19.
Carpenter, now 24 years old, was wounded Nov. 21, 2010, while guarding a patrol base in a small village in Helmand Province.
According to a Marine Corps summary of the action, Carpenter and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio were assigned to provide security from a rooftop post, their presence concealed only by a circle of sandbags piled three to four high.
Enemy forces, which had moved in while hidden by walls from a compound across the street, lobbed three grenades into the patrol base. One injured an Afghan National Army soldier. The second did not detonate.
The third landed close to Carpenter and Eufrazio.
Carpenter placed himself between the grenade and Eufrazio to shield him. The blast deflected down, with Carpenter absorbing most of the explosion.
Eufrazio received a head injury from shrapnel. But Carpenter was severely wounded, sustaining a depressed skull, a collapsed right lung, multiple facial fractures, the loss of a third of his lower jaw and fragment injuries to his arms and legs.
He was immediately evacuated and required brain surgery. He lost his right eye to his injuries.
Carpenter was a patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, until he medically retired last July.
He is a native of Flowood, Mississippi, and is now a student at the University of South Carolina.
So far in his presidency, Obama has presented the medal of honor to 39 members of the armed services.