MoH Recipient Profile: Corporal William Kyle Carpenter

Jessica Evans
Updated onJan 17, 2023 10:13 AM PST
2 minute read
corporal carpenter

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter stands in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington Va., June 18, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael C. Guinto/Released)


Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter of the U.S. Marine Corps earned a Medal of Honor for courageous acts undertaken on November…

Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter of the U.S. Marine Corps earned a Medal of Honor for courageous acts undertaken on November 21, 2010, in Afghanistan. There, he served with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Before joining the military, he lived in Jackson, Mississippi with his parents and siblings. An accomplished athlete, he played football in middle and high school. Then, upon graduating, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2009, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines made space for him in their unit.

Aware of the dangers

Of course the young Marine was aware of the dangers of joining the military during war. The Global War on Terrorism had reached its 9th year by the time he enlisted. Still, he had made up in his mind that he would serve a higher purpose.

In March of 2010, Corporal Carpenter deployed to Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Once there, Corporal Carpenter engaged in heavy combat, fighting from sunrise to sunset. On November 20, 2010, his platoon moved south to an area held by the Taliban. From the moment the marines arrived in the new region, they had to dodge constant grenade attacks.

The night everything changed for Corporal Carpenter

On November 21, Corporal Carpenter and his battle buddy were assigned security detail. He was to guard the surrounding village while posted upon a rooftop look-out. He and his battle buddy had nearly no cover. In fact, the enemy could see them both very clearly.

Suddenly, a hand grenade launched onto the rooftop. Without even a second of thought, Corporal Carpenter bravely threw himself onto the explosive. He covered it with the right half of his body and shielded his platoon partner from the blast.  After the explosion, Corporal Carpenter’s arms went numb, and he fell unconscious. His platoon mates administered emergency medical assistance then had him evacuated by helicopter.

President of the United States, Barrack H. Obama places the Medal of Honor around retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter's neck, inside the East Wing of the White House, June 19, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael C. Guinto/Released)

Walter Reed care

Corporal Carpenter was medically evacuated to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He underwent several surgeries to remove shrapnel from his brain, and he lost one of his eyes. Fortunately, the hard-working surgeons of Walter Reed saved his arm. However, it was badly injured.

For nearly five weeks, Corporal Carpenter remained unconscious in his hospital bed. Eventually, he woke to find his family surrounding him. They had decorated his room for Christmas and sat waiting for him to recover.  After the explosion, Corporal Carpenter spent nearly three years recovering in the hospital. President Obama awarded his Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony.

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