For soldiers in the United States Marines, the difference between life and death can be the matter of a moment. The opportunity to save a life can occur just as quickly.
For Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter, jumping on a grenade to save the life of his friend was a split-second decision, but it was also an act of bravery that would resonate forever.
Kyle earned the prestigious title of Lance Corporal at the age of just 21. In this role, he was sent into war in Afghanistan in 2010 with a unit that included men that had, inevitably, become close friends. The unit had received strict training and the soldiers were strong, prepared, and competent in the roles they had been designated.
But life on the front line is unpredictable.
7 years ago today I was bleeding out on top of a dusty roof in Afghanistan. As I laid there, struggling for air, I…
As fighting intensified, Kyle found himself in the midst of a particularly frantic attack in which a grenade was thrown, and landed near to Kyle and his friend, another soldier.
Kyle calculated the trajectory of the grenade, and, noticing that his friend was in mortal danger, jumped on the grenade. Using his body as a shield, Kyle deflected the explosion and was able to save his friend’s life.
“As I laid there, struggling for air, I thought about my family, said a prayer, and let the world and life fade away,” Kyle remembered, in a poignant Facebook post.
Kyle’s instincts told him that his time was up, but his reserves of strength ran deep. He had, however, suffered devastating injuries. He was rushed to Camp Bastion, where he was initially pronounced dead, but, astounding the medical staff, he somehow managed to pull through. Doctors surveyed the damage and quickly diagnosed shattered bones in the face and skull, and a collapsed lung. Kyle’s body had been blasted with shrapnel.
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The brave soldier had a rough ride ahead.
Over two years, Kyle endured various surgeries to repair the damage caused by the grenade, which included complicated bone and facial reconstructive surgery, and surgery to repair his damaged lung. Kyle went through 40 surgeries in total. His friends and family stood by him and provided him with the support he needed to get through the ordeal. Their care and attention allowed Kyle to recover not only physically, but emotionally, and make sense of the huge decision he had made to jump on top of a live grenade.
“You mean more to me than I could ever express,” Kyle said of his family, with love.
Kyle has maintained a positive, stoic attitude, and even a sense of humor, throughout his recovery.
So loved. So blessed and so thankful for my family at home and my family at Walter Reed. You mean more to me than I could ever express.
As a mark of recognition for his extraordinary, quick-thinking action in the line of duty, and as a mark of respect for his sacrifice, Kyle was awarded the Purple Heart.
He also received a Medal of Honor, the most prestigious decoration awarded to military personnel, from President Barack Obama himself.
Kyle is and will always be a hero; his act of bravery defines him, and he hasn’t let his injuries hold him back. After taking the necessary time to endure surgery, heal, and recover both physically and mentally, Kyle is embarking on a brand-new challenge; he is working towards a degree from the University of South Carolina.
Kyle has retired from military service.
Are you affected by Kyle’s story? Like and share to show your support for a true American hero. Watch the full video of Kyle’s experience below.