I just watched an ESPN special titled "Uncommon Valor: The Kyle Carpenter Story" and I am writing this blog to share Kyle's incredible story of bravery and courage. I recommend that you click the link and watch the 7 minute video. I am going to recount the story here too and share my feelings and emotions. The story is quite powerful.
Kyle and a fellow Marine were startled to hear explosions outside their camp; enemy grenades rained down on the camp. Three grenades had already exploded before Kyle and his partner had geared up and made their way outside to combat the enemy. A fourth grenade landed just feet from Kyle and his partner and would explode any second.
'Valor' is defined as "Great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle". What Kyle Carpenter did embodies the definition of valor. Before the grenade could explode, Kyle threw his body on top of it to shield his friend from the explosion. Despite being Med-evaced just minutes after the grenade exploded, Kyle was declared dead upon arrival to the hospital. Doctors would resuscitate Kyle several times and eventually stabilized him and put him in a medically induced coma.
Weeks later, Kyle awoke to Christmas stockings and decorations adorning his hospital room. He looked up and saw his father standing at the end of his bed and said "Hi Dad." Kyle had survived.
Kyle had lost his right eye, and would eventually need some 40 surgeries to repair his broken body. His right arm sustained over 30 fractures in the explosion. Meanwhile, his partner, due to Kyle's heroism, had survived the battle without injury.
Kyle Carpenter was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in existence, for his uncommon valor and bravery in the line of duty. He recently ran a marathon and plans on running in a triathlon next. If ever anyone deserved the title of 'Warrior' it is Kyle Carpenter.
The first thing that went through my mind while I was watching this ESPN special was this: What kind of a person will willingly throw themselves on a live grenade to save their friend? What kind of will, what kind of courage, what kind of pure selflessness is required to do that? And then it hit me: the kind of will, courage and selflessness exhibited by true warriors.
It is staggering to think about. I asked myself "Would you have been able to do what Kyle did?" And I honestly don't know the answer. I would like to think I could have been so selfless but the fact is I don't really know. I have never been placed in a situation where such courage has been required. I do know one thing however; whatever it is that Kyle has that allowed him to make that sacrifice, I want it. If I don't have it yet, I want it. The filial love Kyle had for his comrade was so powerful that I was overwhelmed with tears while I watched his story and even now as I sit here and type this, my eyes are welled with tears.
I think the lesson that you and I can take away from this story is this: being a warrior is a choice. Kyle had a choice: to jump on that grenade or to turn away from it and let what would happen, happen. Kyle chose the more difficult yet more heroic act. He chose to sacrifice himself for his friend. In Kyle's mind, this was an act of suicide inasmuch as he was not supposed to survive. He knew full well that he was most likely going to die by throwing himself on that grenade; yet he did it anyway. John 15:13 says "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friend." Kyle chose the path of ultimate sacrifice; to die so that his friend could live. Wow.
Make no mistake, Kyle Carpenter is a hero. A true hero. In this culture, we toss around that word 'hero' a great deal. So much so that the meaning has perhaps been dulled due to our desensitization. We say things like "You're my hero" when someone brings us our Starbucks coffee or "X, Y, Z singer/athlete/musician/artist is my hero." Hero is defined as: a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for COURAGE, outstanding achievements, or NOBLE qualities (emphasis added). Was Kyle Carpenter courageous? You bet your life he was. Is it noble to give up your life so that your friend can live? As sure as night follows day. Kyle Carpenter is a hero and you and I would be wise to emulate him. To study his life and to figure out how and why he was able to make such a choice in the face of death. Individuals like Kyle are people worth saying "You are my hero" to. True warriors like Kyle always deserve our respect and gratitude. True warriors like Kyle should always be our heroes and we should never stop telling their stories to our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for reading this special Survivor Saturday, Warrior Speaker blog.
Live with Valor,
The Warrior Speaker Blog is a collection of warrior lessons Alexander has learned in addition to practical information about protecting yourself and all that you deem most personal.