Ryan Pitts: Medal of Honor

I wrote this article for Yahoo, but it was not published due to their closure.  So I wanted to post it here, in recognition of his bravery, dedication, and loyalty.
Current Age: 28
Battle: Battle of
Wanat in the Waygal Valley of Afghanistan
Date of Battle:
July 13, 2008
Battle Unit: 2nd
Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment,
173rd Airborne Brigade
Date of MOH Award: July
21, 2014
Military Awards: 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
Pitt has proved himself to be a true American hero.  In the midst of immeasurable odds, believing
his life was already over, Pitts spent what he though were his last minutes on
earth keeping the enemy at bay.  He just
wanted to keep the enemy from gaining ground for as long as he could so that
reinforcements could come and take them out. 
He had no intention of surviving. 
That’s a Soldier.  That’s a hero.
But Pitts survived. 
Now he will receive the Medal of Honor. 
Rightfully so.  Here is his story
of dedication, sacrifice, and duty.  A
hero’s story.
It was July 28, 2013. 
His unit had been in Afghanistan 14 months and they were preparing to go
home.  They were shutting down their
current combat post, Bella, in order to move it to the outskirts of the Village
of Wanat.   This was their last mission.
They were expecting an attack.  There were several dead spaces near the
village, areas where the enemy could congregate without being seen.  They had spotted some potential insurgents
and put together a request for fire. 
They were not disappointed.  The
attack came just after 4am, before their request was fulfilled.
About 200 Taliban fighters infiltrated the town and launched
an attack with small arms fire, rocket propelled grenades, and hand
grenades.   The entire valley had erupted
in fire.  Pitts received shrapnel wounds
in both legs and his left arm from grenades. 
Seven others were immediately wounded and two were killed. 
Pitts crawled across the outpost and one of his comrades
applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding in one of Pitts’ legs.  Pitts, realizing that the insurgents were
close enough to throw grenades, began “cooking” grenades – allowing timers to
tick down – before throwing them at the enemy.  This was incredibly risky as a grenade could
have a faulty fuse and explode early.  However,
it made it impossible for the insurgents to toss the grenades back.
To save some grenades, Pitts grabbed an M-240 machine gun
and fired blindly over the wall.  He was
now unable to stand.  He was keeping in
contact with CPT Matthew Myer, the company commander, who was fighting on the
main vehicle patrol base. 
It wasn’t long before Pitts realized he was the only one
left in the observation post.  All the
soldiers had died or withdrawn.  CPT Myer
informed him that there were no reinforcements on their way.  Everyone was bogged down in the fight.
“Taking up the M-203 grenade launcher, Pitts began firing it
almost directly overhead, straight up, placing grenades that would detonate
just on the other side of the perimeter, where the insurgents had concealed
themselves in the draw,” Army record accounts. “Pitts also called on the radio
for any soldier with a sightline to the OP to begin firing over the sandbag
wall at his position, to knowck the enemy back if they breached the wall.”
Soon, Pitts was reinforced by a group of four soldiers, one
of whom was killed.  Not long after,
helicopters arrived.  Pitts was barely
conscious.  However, he managed to stay
alert enough to stay in touch with CPT Meyer and provide the necessary
information to allow CPT Myer to guide airstrikes.  Pitts effort allowed the US to turn the tide
of the battle.
Pitts was rescued at 6:15am. 
He had critical injuries and had suffered blood loss from the 2
hour-long fight.  By the end of the
battle, 9 soldiers had lost their lives and 30 were wounded.
“Despite life-threatening injuries – injuries that merited
retreat from the [observation post]- he continued to fight,” CPT Myer wrote in
his report.
Pitts could have withdrawn without any shame.  His injuries were extreme enough that retreat
was expected.  But he didn’t.  He stayed. 
He fought.  He wanted to spend his
last hours on earth fighting back the enemy so his comrades could finish the job.  He was truly dedicated.  He fulfilled his duty and then some.  His teammates finished the job and Pitts came
home alive.  He came home with honor.