Bestowed upon fewer than 3,600 Americans since
President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law in 1861,
Ric Catches up with Clint Romesha, Medal of Honor recipient .
With archival footage and commentary from historians and military leaders, the series highlights the lives and experiences of these courageous men who went above and beyond the call of duty. Their battlegrounds were Italy, Germany, and France during World War II; along the 38th parallel in the Korean War; in Laos during the deadliest year of the Vietnam War; and in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. Family members and brothers-in-arms also recall the extraordinary odds faced by the servicemen, and through intense recreations, viewers get inside their minds to uncover how they handled what many have described as “the worst day of their lives.” The diverse group of featured recipients — including three living veterans — came from a Massachusetts farm, a New Mexico immigrant community, small towns and big cities all across the nation.
The post-9/11 era brought a dangerous new intensity to military engagements. Clint Romesha enlisted in the Army in 1999 and trained to be an armor crewman, and had seen combat in Iraq, but nothing was like his deployment to Combat Outpost Keating, located at the bottom of three steep mountains in Afghanistan. On the morning of Oct. 3, 2009, Staff Sergeant Romesha, 28, and approximately 50 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division awoke to an explosive and aggressive Taliban attack. It soon became clear that they were outnumbered. As direct fire came from all sides, Romesha got word that Taliban forces had actually broken the perimeter of the camp, what’s known as “Enemy in the wire.” The odds were now against them surviving at all; the Taliban had more manpower and greater firepower. Romesha made the crucial decision to try to take back the front entrance to the outpost, to stop further Taliban forces from entering. As air support arrived from Jalalabad, 400 Taliban were defeated — but in the small arms assault that morning, eight Americans had lost their lives.
After his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Romesha — raised in a small California town, from a family with a deep military legacy — went back home to his wife and three children, but he hadn’t forgotten the men who didn’t return. It’s in the memory of the eight lives lost at “COP Keating” that Romesha and his fellow soldiers from the unit reunite at an annual golf tournament to raise money in the name of one of their fallen comrades. Romesha told the story of all the men of his unit in his book Red Platoon — and, as he says in Medal of Honor, “Now, we all know of their sacrifice.”
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