The Medal of Honor is the highest award for combat valor, and recognizes soldiers, who, even in the face of danger, show extraordinary bravery and heroism on the battlefield. Ryan Pitts is one of these individuals.
President Barack Obama will award Pitts the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on July 21. The award will recognize Pitts’ efforts at the Battle of Wanat in the northeastern part of Afghanistan, where he held off enemy assault.
“For me, this was a team effort,” he told the Army Times. “I’m going to receive it, but it’s not going to be mine. We did it together. No one guy carried that day. I don’t think I did anything more than anyone else, and I think this award represents everything we did as a collective effort that day.”
The battle, which killed nine U.S. soldiers and wounded 27 more service members, took place on July 13, 2008 when at least 100 insurgents open fire on a new patrol base and nearby U.S. observation post. While the surprise attack began with machine gun fire, it turned into an all-out assault with machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and more, according to The Washington Post.
Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts, already wounded, didn’t give up. He crawled from position to position in the observation post and saw many casualties on the terraces and in the crow’s nest. The southern position fighting position was empty. He was alone. He then got on the radio and called for help.
Pitts got off the radio, and “at that point I just tried to think of the next thing I could do to impact the battle,” he told the Army Times. He continued to fight by repeatedly tossing hand grenades at oncoming insurgents and manning a M-240B machine gun until his fellow soldiers responded.
Fellow soldiers finally rushed to Pitt’s position and found him fighting for his life in one of the most controversial battles of the Afghanistan War. Today, the battlefield and war are long behind Pitts, who will be the ninth recipient of the medal for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Daily Mail. Pitts now lives in Nashua, N.H. and works in business development for a computer software company.