On Tuesday, it was the Pentagon’s opportunity to pay tribute to one of its own as it inducted Romesha into the Hall of Heroes, only the fourth living recipient to be awarded the military’s highest honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Romesha “embodies the essence of a soldier, and represents what every man and woman who dons this uniform strives to be,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, the service’s top officer, said during the ceremony.
General Odierno pointed to Romesha’s fellow soldiers from his Bravo troop of the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, which became one of most decorated units in US military history, earning nine Silver Stars, 18 Bronze Star medals with Valor, and 27 Purple Hearts.
On that October morning in 2009, Romesha, who had already served two tours of duty in Iraq, distinguished himself, repeatedly moving through an open and uncovered avenue on the base, which was being hit with a barrage of gunfire and RPG fire, as he made sure his fellow soldiers were in place and well-equipped.
Romesha at one point took cover near a generator to fire at a Taliban machine gun team that that was on high ground. “After destroying this team,” he turned his sights on another machine gun team “that was firing an overwhelming amount of fire” onto the base, according to the Defense Department’s official narrative of the battle.
As he was doing that, however, an RPG hit the generator and knocked Romesha backward, onto his assistant gunner.
“Not noticing his own wounds, Romesha re-engaged the enemy with his weapon system until an additional soldier arrived to man the machine gun.”
At this point, Romesha moved back along the base’s deadly open avenue to assemble another team and to make sure they were well equipped with ammunition.