This afternoon, President Barack Obama presented the 2014 Medal of Honor to former Army Sergeant Kyle J. White, 27, for his courageous actions while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Here are six other facts about the military hero that are sure to inspire you:
1. White received the highest military honor for his heroism while serving as a Platoon Radio Telephone Operator assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on November 9, 2007. The Sergeant and his team of 14 were ambushed when trying to meet with village elders. Though White was knocked unconscious during the fire fight, he eventually awoke and ran through gunfire to protect his fellow soldiers, and saved a fellow unit member’s life. According to Army reports, White would only allow himself to be evacuated after fellow wounded soldiers were helped first.
2. He’s the 7th living recipient of the honor for combat actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. More than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been given to service members since it was first authorized in 1861.
3. His military career began in Georgia, where he went through basic and advanced individual training, and U.S. Army Airborne School consecutively, at Fort Benning, Ga. White was then assigned to the 2-503rd, at Camp Ederle, Italy, from 2006 to 2008 and deployed to Aranas, Afghanistan in spring 2007. He was assigned to the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, at Fort Benning, from 2008 to 2010, before departing active-duty Army in May 2011.
4. White is a Seattle native who now lives in Charlotte, where he received a B.S. in business administration from the the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He currently works for the Royal Bank of Canada as an investment analyst.
5. White was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following that fatal incident in Afghanistan. He received professional help and has become a vocal advocate of receiving mental health assistance to fellow warriors.
6. He’s a big believer in education, especially for returning servicemembers. “I really want to…help educate servicemembers that are thinking about leaving the service and going back into the civilian world…about the post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the importance of an education and really, you know, how necessary it is for certain jobs out there,” White told Stars and Stripes.