MOH Recipient SGT Kyle White Tells His Story
In his own words, Medal Of Honor recipient SGT Kyle White recounts the 2007 deadly ambush in Nuristan which earned him the United State’s highest military honor.
By the time the firefight that earned White the Medal Of Honor occurred, the paratroopers of his unit had already become battle hardened, enduring many gunfights and suffering several casualties. A few months prior, White’s company was forced to shut down their remote firebase known as the Ranch House after several soldiers were wounded in repeated attacks and one three hour firefight in which the outpost was almost overrun by a large enemy element that was being actively facilitated by the local villagers.
In November of 2007, White found himself doing rotations out of COP Bella in the same region under the watchful eyes of the same Taliban sympathizing villagers. The crooked locals played an instrumental role in the November 9th ambush that would result in the deaths of 6 service members and the wounding of everybody else that survived the battle.
14 members of 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2-503rd Airborne led by 1LT Matthew Ferrara, set out for a shura meeting with the local elders. Tensions were high as the villagers were acting out of character and kept purposefully prolonging the meeting. The paratroopers knew something was up, but they also had a mission to complete.
Eventually the meeting concluded and White’s platoon began traversing the rugged terrain back to COP Bella. Just as the lead element worked around a spur on the mountain, the Taliban initiated the ambush with small arms fire from locations visually undetectable because of the setting sun. In an attempt to seek cover and get out of the kill zone, the lead squad slid down a rock face and took up defensive positions in a riverbed.
Meanwhile, White and the HQ element which consisted of Platoon Leader 1LT Matthew Ferrara, Forward Observer SPC Kain Schilling, and ANA Advisor Marine Corps SGT Philip Bocks were pinned down in the kill zone, unable to move.
Within the first few seconds of the firefight, White was knocked unconscious by an exploding enemy RPG. He awoke amidst a constant shower of incoming rounds that zipped past him and ricocheted off nearby rocks. As he returned fire, he saw that Schilling, the FO, had been hit, so he sprinted under intense fire to deliver first-aid.
After applying a tourniquet to the FO, White saw that Marine SGT Bocks had also been hit. He was unresponsive and blood poured from his mouth. White made the decision to sprint toward Bocks and assess his wounds. He had been shot multiple times. The paratrooper attempted to stop the hemorrhaging, but the casualty was too far gone. He soon bled out.
Immediately after Bocks passed, Schilling took another round in the leg, and White returned to once again give aid, this time using his belt as a make-shift tourniquet.
White attempted to call for fire-support and MEDEVAC, but soon realized his radio had been destroyed. At that time, he sought out his Platoon Leader, only to find LT Ferrara dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Still under intense fire, he returned to Bocks and was able to recover his radio. As he lifted the hand mic it was shot from his grasp. Yet, he was able to get the radio operational again. He made contact with the TOC at COP Bella and began calling for indirect fires. White was almost knocked unconscious again by a friendly mortar round that missed its target. He was also able to establish contact with the other part of his platoon that was still pinned down and taking casualties in the riverbed, yet was unable to physically link up with them for fear of making Schilling’s wounds worse.
Darkness set in, and although the firefight lulled, White could still hear the Taliban fighters maneuvering above his position. Hours passed into the night, and eventually MEDEVAC birds arrived, first taking the wounded and sensitive items, and then, finally, White was extracted.
White accompanied the body of his dear friend CPL Langevin, who died in the battle with the other element of his platoon further down the hill, back to the United States for burial. Yet, White immediately returned to his Chosen Company brothers in Afghanistan to finish out the 15 month deployment, which I assure you got no easier for them.
Just days before redeployment, Chosen Company got overran at an unfinished COP at Wanat, killing nine paratroopers and wounding 27 more.
The word “hero” get’s thrown around a lot these days. It’s men like Kyle White that bring true meaning back to the term. I’m sure there is a part of White that will forever be fighting on that rock ledge with his brothers, but he did make it back, and he will go on living, not just for himself, but for those five Sky Soldiers and one Marine that never did.
RIP to the Fallen, and the sincerest gratitude to SGT White.
For more information on White and his acts of Valor click »>HERE«<