And while Marine Corporal Kyle Carpenter has that in spades (he’s being honored for actions such as throwing himself in front of a grenade to protect a fellow Marine in Afghanistan; both men survived), he’s got other qualities that may make him one of our most memorable heroes yet: Humor. Wit. And a powerful resilience that’s likely to inspire everyone he meets.
Carpenter, who’ll be given the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obamais only the second living Marine to receive the award for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now 24, he’s endured challenges that would make the average person ready for retirement. At 21, his body was destroyed by the grenade attack, which caused doctors to label him a PEA (patient expired on arrival) when he got to Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan. He flatlined at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
But Carpenter endured, recovering to accomplish more remarkable achievements, like finishing a marathon and attending the University of South Carolina on the G.I. Bill. And he’s doing it all with a sense of humor (jokes about helping his Mom with Twitter, where Carpenter’s handle is @chiksdigscars) and optimism that’s led the veteran-focused website Task and Purpose to deem him “an unapologetic badass.”
And as the young hero tells it, “I won’t ever quit. I am just getting started.”
Watch Carpenter tell his full story below: