US & Canada

Obama awards Ty Carter Medal of Honor for Afghan battle

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Media captionStaff Sgt Carter has spoken openly about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, called the hidden wound of war

US President Barack Obama is presenting the Medal of Honor to a soldier for heroism during a battle that lasted more than six hours in Afghanistan.

Army Staff Sgt Ty Carter, 33, saved a comrade and killed enemy fighters as his unit was ambushed.

The attack happened days before Command Outpost Keating, located at the bottom of a narrow valley, was due to shut.

Former soldier Clinton Romesha also received the military's highest honour for his role in the same battle.

Sgt Carter, a married father of three who grew up in Spokane, Washington, is the fifth living recipient of the Medal of Honor.

He has earned other awards for his military exploits, including the Purple Heart.

Presenting the medal on Monday, Mr Obama also thanked Sgt Carter for speaking out about his own struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Shrapnel wounds

According to the official narrative, eight US soldiers were killed and more than two dozen injured during the battle on 3 October 2009.

More than 300 enemy fighters ambushed about 50 US soldiers at Command Outpost Keating, a small base in Afghanistan's remote Nuristan Province near Pakistan, say US officials.

At about 06:00 local time, six minutes after the troop command post received a warning, the hills "erupted" with gunfire.

The enemy engaged in a "coordinated, complex attack the magnitude and intensity of which had not been seen" in the remote area since the Taliban was toppled eight years earlier.

Members of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment rushed to defend their position, and Sgt Carter ran across an open space under concentrated fire to join a group of soldiers.

Image caption President Barack Obama also honoured Sgt Carter for the "other battle he has fought" - against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

He brought M240 machine gun ammunition and M4 rifle magazines to them. Under intense fire, it is said that Sgt Carter made another run for ammunition at great risk to his own life.

According to the citation, the enemy then began firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), forcing the men to take refuge in a Humvee military vehicle.

One RPG hit the vehicle and three servicemen, including Sgt Carter, were wounded by flying shrapnel.

About half an hour into the battle, the soldiers decided to move location and join the other members of B Troop.

The official narrative says that Sgt Carter, along with another soldier, Sgt Bradley Larson, volunteered to give covering fire to their comrades as they tried to move back. In the process, one member of the group was killed on the spot.

Enemy fire intensified, resulting in several casualties, but it is said that Sgt Carter and Sgt Larson were able to kill two enemy fighters and wound another, prompting the attackers to retreat as they were about to overrun the position.

Image caption Shannon Carter, right, looks at her husband, Sgt Ty Carter, as he talks to reporters last month

As intense fighting continued, Sgt Carter killed four more attackers and helped prevent the south side of Combat Outpost Keating from being taken, the official narrative says.

He is also said to have run through a hail of bullets to staunch the bleeding of a wounded soldier and carry him back to a safe place before returning to the fight.

Sgt Carter, a cavalry scout with the 4th Infantry Division, was eventually able to bring his injured comrade to an aid station five hours after he was injured.

Later in the day, under cover of darkness, the soldier was flown to a hospital where he died of his wounds.

Sgt Carter's citation reads: "Carter's remarkable acts of heroism and skill... exemplify what it means to be an American hero."

During the ceremony, Mr Obama said he wanted to honour Sgt Carter for the "other battle he has fought" - coping with PTSD.

The president said: "To any of troops or veterans who are watching and struggling: look at his man, look at this soldier… he's as tough as they come, and if he can find the courage and the strength to not only seek help but to speak out about it [PTSD], to take care of himself and stay strong, so can you."

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