Staff Sergeant Pitts Receives Medal of Honor
Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts of New Hampshire made this statement to the Army in a video interview after he learned that he would be receiving the Medal of Honor.
In July 2008, a fierce battle pitted 48 soldiers of 173rd Airborne Brigade against about 200 enemy fighters who attacked their small base near the village of Wanat in Afghanistan.
At the time of the fight, Pitts did not expect to make it out alive. Suffering shrapnel wounds after the enemy opened up on the small base with machine gun and rocket-propelled grade fire, Pitts crawled from position to position at his observation post. He fired back with his rifle and grenades.
The enemy onslaught took its fatal toll on the post, until the men around him lay dead and the insurgents got ever closer. Pitts pulled pins from his grenades and tossed them at the enemy only seconds before they exploded to make sure there was no time for the Taliban fighters to toss them back. When the shooting ended more than an hour later, nine of his fellow soldiers were dead and another 27 wounded, making the Wanat fight one of the most costly in American lives in a single battle in Afghanistan.
Standing in the East Room of the White House on Monday, the men with whom he served and fought were on his mind. Pitts said the real heroes “are the nine men who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could return home. Valor was everywhere that day.”
Pitts became the ninth living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Another seven were awarded posthumously.