JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, bestowed the nation’s highest military award, spoke Monday about the battle in which he risked his life to try to save his band of brothers.
It was Oct. 3, 2009, when 400 insurgents attacked Combat Outpost Keating in the mountainous Nuristan province of Afghanistan.
Just 53 U.S. troops were at that post when gunfire started around 6 a.m.
“When I came out through the door of my barracks, concrete and sand was spinning back at me because of the rounds coming in. It looked like raindrops all over the ground. The more impacts I saw, the faster I ran,” Carter said at a JBLM news conference.
The White House officially announced Monday that Carter, 33, will receive the Medal of Honor from President Obama in a White House ceremony set for Aug. 26. He will be only the fifth living recipient of the nation’s highest military honor.
At JBLM later Monday, Carter said he had been running ammunition to troops when a sniper pinned down him and four others in a Humvee. In the distance, he saw a comrade, Spc. Stefen Mace, wounded and lying trapped in open ground.
“I saw Mace crawling on his elbows, dragging his legs. I asked Sgt. Larson if I could get to him and he told me no. It’s very painful to see a good man suffer and then not be able to go to him when you know you can save him,” Carter said.
As the firefight intensified, Carter knew he had to do something. He asked his fellow sergeant to cover him and ran to Mace, picked him up and carried him back to the safety of the Humvee.
Then Carter braved the bullets again, and ran back to get a radio to call for help.
Mace did not survive his wounds and was one of eight killed in action that day.
Carter’s wife, Shannon Carter, said her husband has had a hard time coping with that.
“It’s scary. It was very overwhelming to hear what they all experienced that day. I could never wrap my mind around it and the severity of what they went through and what they had to do,” Shannon Carter said, adding that she is incredibly proud of her husband.
Carter, however, is still trying to come to terms with earning this prestigious award.
“I don’t want to put down the Medal of Honor or what it means, but when you’ve lost family, it doesn’t faze you. It’s not what you’re thinking about,” Carter said.
According to the Los Angeles Times, at the time of the battle, Carter was serving as a cavalry scout with the 4th Infantry Division’s Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
He is now with the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He completed a second deployment to Afghanistan in October.
Born in Spokane, Carter’s family moved to the San Francisco Bay area when he was barely a year old. Although his family moved back to Spokane a decade later, Carter continues to list Antioch, Calif., in Contra Costa County, north of San Francisco, as his hometown.
Carter served in the Marine Corps from 1998 to 2002, including assignments in Egypt and San Clemente Island. After receiving an honorable discharge, he studied biology at Los Medanos Community College in Pittsburg, Calif., also in Contra Costa County.
In 2008, he enlisted in the Army. He and his wife have three children.