History Wars Afghanistan War

MoH Monday: Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts

Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts is a distinguished retired member of the U.S. Army honored with our nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor.
Jessica Evans Avatar
ryan m. pitts
President Barack Obama presents Former Staff Sgt. Ryan M. Pitts with the Medal of Honor at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez/ Released)

Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts is a distinguished retired member of the United States Army honored with our nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. His brave and courageous deeds in Afghanistan in 2008 earned him this prestigious recognition for his unwavering commitment to protecting our freedoms.

Background

Staff Sergeant Pitts was born and raised in the farm country of New Hampshire. By the time his high school graduation rolled around, he was still unclear as to what he would do with his life. He considered college but believed the cost of tuition might put a strain on his family. In 2003, when Pitts was only 17, he enlisted in the Army’s delayed entry program.

He spent much of his early military career stationed at Camp Ederle, Italy. Eventually, in 2007 he deployed to Afghanistan, where he engaged in the action that earned him his Medal of Honor.

Ryan M. Pitts medal of honor
MOH SSG (ret) Ryan Pitts visit 1st BN 40th Field Artillery. SSG Pitts completed basic training with 40th and came back to talk with the Cadre and Trainees. Pitts talked with the Trainees about the importance of the material that they learn in basic and how it helped him on his missions. He also signed the poster of him located in Vessey Hall, where trainees are received into basic training.

Medal of Honor Action

During a grueling 15-month deployment in Kunar Province, Staff Sergeant Pitts was assigned security detail at an observation post outside a vehicle patrol base. On July 13, 2008, an Anti-Afghan militia launched an attack against the base, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. Soon after, a grenade hit the observation post, setting it ablaze. Several service members died in the initial explosion, and Staff Sergeant Pitts sustained severe injuries. He lay on the ground bleeding from shrapnel wounds as the assault raged on.

Despite his condition, Staff Sergeant Pitts fearlessly defended the observation post. He fired on the enemy, hurling grenades at them until they retreated. Even though he could not stand, he succeeded in slowing enemy advancement.

Soon, a reinforcement team arrived to defend the observation post. Staff Sergeant Pitts gave them his rifles to fire on the enemy. Meanwhile, he crawled to the ammunition depot, got more grenades, and then launched them at the attackers. Next, watching as the assailants advanced, Staff Sergeant Pitts radioed to the main base, telling his comrades where the assailants were in the field. Thanks to this brave action, his fellow soldiers could fire on the enemy snipers from the high ground and prevent the main base from being overtaken.

Staff Sergeant Pitts’ courageous action saved not only the vehicle patrol base but the countless military personnel who had been working inside. He received a medical discharge from the Army in 2009.  

On July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama presented (Ret) Staff Sergeant Pitts with his Medal of Honor during a special ceremony at the White House. Pitts now works in business development for a technology corporation.