The Incredible Story Of Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts, Latest Medal Of Honor Recipient
I have yet to hear a Medal of Honor story that didn’t leave me completely and utterly speechless.
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This is one of them: A wounded soldier, the last one standing at his base, fights off 200+ insurgents.
This is valor on a whole other level. God bless him, the fallen, and all that serve.
Pitts served with 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
The White House notes that Pitts’ personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal w/ “V” Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/ three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “4”, NATO Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Combat Action Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Parachutist Badge.
In the summer of 2008, Pitts, then a sergeant, and his team were part of Operation “Rock Move,” meant to transfer remaining forces and capability from Combat Outpost Bella to a new location on the outskirts of a village called Wanat. The new position was Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler. COP Bella was to be closed.
The mission was expected to be the last for the Soldiers before returning home — they’d been in Afghanistan for 14 months.
On the morning of July 13, at about 4 a.m., Pitts was manning Observation Post Topside, which was positioned east of the main base, and east of a bazaar and hotel complex in Wanat.
Shortly after, Soldiers conducting surveillance identified potential insurgents. They put together a request for fire. But before that could happen, at about 4:20 a.m, Soldiers heard machine-gun fire from the north. After that, the valley erupted in enemy fire.
Soldiers at OP Topside were hit with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. Pitts and six other paratroopers at OP Topside were injured in the initial volley of enemy fire. Two paratroopers were killed. Pitts took grenade shrapnel in both legs and his left arm.
For more than an hour after, Pitts continued to fight and defend his position and his teammates, despite his injuries.
Throughout the battle, despite the loss of blood and severity of his wounds, Pitts’ incredible toughness, determination, and ability to communicate with leadership while under fire allowed U.S. forces to hold the observation post and turn the tide of the battle.
Without his ability to stay alert and fight while critically wounded, the enemy would have gained a foothold on high ground and inflicted significantly greater causalities onto the vehicle patrol base, and the enemy could have been in possession of the fallen Soldiers at the observation post.