President Obama Presents Medal of Honor

Former Sergeant Kyle White received the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan.
22:59 | 05/13/14

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Transcript for President Obama Presents Medal of Honor
I'm Michelle Franzen in New York who want to take you immediately to the White House now our President Obama is proven is steadying and getting ready to deliver the medal of honor the nation's highest military. Great tribute and -- that we soldier -- -- the courage of his generation. The young man who was a freshman in high school when the Twin Towers fell. And who just five years later became an -- paratrooper with legendary. 173 airborne. The -- soldiers. Today we present our nation's highest military decoration. The medal -- To sergeant Kyle. Well it is the second sky soldier to be recognized with the medal of honor for service above and beyond the call of duty in Afghanistan. Today he joins us staff sergeant Salvatore. Jumped up and proud brotherhood of previous honorees. Members of the medal of honor society some of whom are with us here today. We have a lot of VIPs here but I'd like to acknowledge. The most important. Kyle's parents Cheryl and cart. And Kyle's girlfriend -- I am told the back home. And -- lake Washington when Kyle wanted to list. At first -- set his sights on -- But his -- -- is a veteran of the army special forces. So I'm told there was a difference of opinion. And I suspect good family discussion. As commander in chief I cannot take sides in this debate. Bottom line is -- join the army. And in doing so we carried on his family's proud tradition of service. Which found its expression on -- November today over six years ago. Across Afghanistan base commanders were glued to the radios. Listening as American forces fought back and ambush in the rugged mountains. One battalion commander remember that all of Afghanistan. Was listening as a soldier on the ground. Described what was happening. They -- -- colts on Charlie 16 Romeo. We know was -- -- at the time was just twenty years old and only 21 months. Into his military service. Earlier that afternoon Kyle on the thirteen members of his team along with a squad of Afghan soldiers. Left an Afghan village after meeting with the elders. The Americans made their way back up -- -- current single file along a narrow path. The cliffs rising to the right and the slope -- shale dropping on -- left. They knew not to stop the -- to keep moving. They're headed -- to an area known as ambush Alley. And that's when a single shot -- -- that another men and entire Kenyon erupted and bullets coming from what seemed like every direction. It was as if -- -- the whole valley -- up. -- platoon returned fire. How quickly emptied a full magazine but as he went to -- An enemy grenade exploded and knocked him unconscious. He came to -- -- face pressed against rock. And as he moved to get up and -- rounds hit Iraq just inches from his head sending shrapnel and rock charts across -- -- Most you'd have been forced to slide down the cliff to the valley below but -- sought treatment specialist. McCain showing. Trying to treat his own shattered -- using a tree -- -- What came later called the smallest tree on earth I'm sure that's how it felt. Kyle spread through enemy fire McCain's son began applying a tourniquet shielding Kerry -- his own body -- gunfire shred of that tree. Then Kyle saw another man down marine sergeant. -- box. In the open thirty feet behind them but too injured to reach cover. Kyle remembers thinking is just a matter of time before I'm dead that's gonna happen -- might as well help someone wall -- -- -- bullets impacted all around him Kyle ran to box began to pull the injured marine to cup. But worried that -- -- box to more gunfire -- retreated. The -- rounds followed. He ran out again pulling box little -- Once more retreated to distract the enemy fire. Once more he went up. Over and over thinking to himself I'm not gonna make. How could feel the pressure of the rounds going mine but somehow. Miraculously. They never -- not once. One of his teammates said it was as if Kyle was moving faster than a speeding -- And finally -- succeeded in pulling his comrade cup. Tragically. There on that cliff. Sort of box succumbed to his wounds. -- in his final moments this American -- truly found some solace. In -- white the American soldier who until the very end was there by his side. Now that other injured soldiers came showing was still out there and hit sustain another injury this time to his -- -- -- -- once more McCain's side. How ripped off his own -- for tourniquet and soon got his hands on working radio. The voice of Charlie 16 Romeo came in to face. Crouching behind that lone tree -- began calling in airstrikes to take out enemy positions. -- stayed with special showing as night fell McCain was too badly injured to move. Kyle -- -- -- on his own -- sent them. But he knew that he was -- best chance to get out alive smoke I'll took charge and order the Afghan soldiers to form a security perimeter. He called in a medevac to make sure came in the other injured were safely on board and only then did Kyle finally allow himself to be lifted up. As a helicopter pulled away Kyle looked out the window. -- the darkness is they pulled away from that single tree on the cliff. When you're deployed he later said. Those people become your fair. What you really care about -- Or give this guy but left. And to the right. Home. This family was tested that. Not a single one of them escaped without injury. And six brave Americans gave their lives. Their last full measure of devotion. And we remember them today. Sargent -- -- box. Captain -- -- for a specialist Joseph M. On core. Sargent Jeffrey S person -- Corporal Lester G broken. And -- best friend corporal Sean Kate. -- Some of their families are here today. I've asked them please stand so we can recognize -- extraordinary sacrifice. Legacy of this fallen heroes and Doris and the courage and strength of their unit. Fourteen men. Forever Brothers in arms. We're proud to welcome those who fought so valiantly bad day. Specialist James -- the -- the -- say it. And members. The second battalion chosen company of the 173. Airborne brigade would you please stand. We don't like for his extraordinary actions on that November day but. His journey from that date of this speaks to the story of his generation. How completed the rest of a fifteen month deployment in Afghanistan. He came back home and trained other young paratroopers as they prepared to deploy. When it completed the service I'll decide to pursue different bring with the help of the post 9/11 GI bill. He went college. You graduated and today works for bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. When Carl walker -- office every day people see a man in the suit -- to work that's out should be. -- proud veteran. Walking into his community. Contributing his talents and skills to the progress of our nation. But how we'll tell you that the transition to civilian life and -- with the posttraumatic stress hasn't always been he's. More than six years later -- -- still see the images and hear the sounds of that battle. Every day he wakes up thinking about his battle buddies. If you look closely that man in the suit on his way to work you'll notice the piece of war that he carries Wear them tucked under short sleeve. The stainless steel bracelet around his rest etched with the names of his six fallen -- -- always be what. Or saccharine their sacrifice motivates me he says to be the best I can be. Everything I do in my life is done to make them proud. -- Members chosen company he did your duty and now it's time for America do ours. After more than a decade of war to walk me home with the support -- the benefits and opportunities that you work. You make -- -- And you make you more of -- all of us to be the best we can be as Americans. As a nation. To uphold our sacred obligations. To your generation all who have faced. That measure of danger and the willingness to -- May god bless you when his -- inspiring sustain us always. And may god continue to bless the United States of America. Would that I'd like to have the citation right. The president of the United States of America. Authorized by act of congress march 31863. Has awarded in the name of congress the medal of honor to specialist Kyle. United States -- Specialist Kyle. While serving as a radio telephone operator with company C. Second battalion airborne 503. Infantry regiment 173. Airborne brigade. During combat operations. Against an armed enemy -- -- province Afghanistan. On November 92007. On that day specialist white and his comrades were returning to -- outpost from a Shura which are not village elders. As the soldiers traversed -- narrow path surrounded by mountainous rocky terrain they were ambushed by enemy forces from elevated positions. Pinned against -- steep mountain face specialist white and his fellow soldiers were completely exposed to enemy fire. Specialist white returned fire and was briefly knocked unconscious. When -- rocket propelled grenade impacted near him. When he regained consciousness another round impacted near him in -- small pieces of shrapnel in his face. Shaking off his wounds specialist white noticed one of his comrades lying wounded nearby. Without hesitation specialist white exposed himself to enemy fire in order to reach the soldier and provide medical aid. After applying a tourniquet specialists white moved to an injured marine providing aid and comfort until the marine succumbed to his wounds. Specialist white then return to the soldier and discovered that he had been wounded again. Applying his own belt as an additional tourniquet specialist white was able to stem the flow of blood and save the soldier's life. Noticing that -- and the other soldiers radios were in operative. Specialists white exposed himself to enemy fire yet again in order to secure radio from a deceased comrade. He then provided information and updates to friendly forces. Allowing precision airstrikes to stifle the enemy's attack and ultimately permitting medical evacuation aircraft to rescue him. His fellow soldiers Marines and Afghan army soldiers. Specialist Kyle. And reflect great credit upon himself. Company C second battalion airborne five of the third infantry regiment. 173. Airborne brigade. And the united states army. -- -- -- The guts -- his mercy and protection we commit ourselves. Inspired by the actions of sergeant Kyle -- distracted by divine Providence -- we go our way in peace. -- of good courage. We hold fast to that which is good. 102 no evil no one evil for evil. Rather -- to be strengthened in the faint hearted maybe support the week. -- help the wounded and honor all persons. Blessing of god be -- to stay we prayed as holy name. Man. That concludes this ceremony. But not the celebration. I hear the food here is pretty good. And the drinks are -- -- a picture. It's. The but. I hope all of you and enjoy. The hospitality of the White House. I hope we all remember. Once again those who were fallen. We are grateful to families. Who -- here and to Kyle and all who serve. In America's armed forces. We want you to know that we will always be grateful through extraordinary service to work and thank you are much -- -- -- after. President Obama delivering the medal of honor the nation's highest military honor to 27 yeah. Seattle native Sargent Kyle white who under heavy fire in 2007. To 2007 -- saved fellow soldier's life. Evacuated other wounded comrades we're joined now by ABC's Louis Martinez -- the Pentagon Louis this of course again the highest military honor. An American soldier can receive. What in the eyes of his commanders and this White House -- former sergeant -- so especially deserving. Well Michelle it was actually his heroism and going back into the face of enemy fire withering enemy fire. Hazel we have with her descriptions -- this he suffered two concussions. He suffered an injury to the back of his head and knocked him flat on his face. And yet he looks around -- this -- comrades in arms. Struck down by fire and -- goes in not just a couple of feet but thirty feet into that fire reaching them bringing -- -- them back. And then just demonstrating. -- and trying to save their lives you heard the president talk about. How he set up to tourniquet on one individual -- Schilling. He did the same for -- -- who unfortunately didn't survive his injuries but it's that kind of valor that it is awarded but with the medal of honor. So few have been received -- and -- your church members in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. -- like becomes the seventh living recipient so it's very -- to get these the medals. But very well deserved. During an interview ABC's John Karl asked about those late night hours alone waiting here's what -- -- -- today. What happens next then it was night time and that's probably. -- -- -- scariest time. More than the -- itself. Just because you you realize. You know I'm the only able bodied. American. At my location. We have one set of night vision. You know. After polls. 360 security. And you just realize how alone you are out there. And it was not a good feeling. So -- helicopters coming to evacuate. You the last. And made sure he went first. And then seem to try to get the those are -- nationality to let -- fight and I was like -- were long feel we gotta go what you're going right now and then. She is -- him and to me out of there. Louis that was almost seven years ago now we heard from the president about. That time about it heroism but also about his struggles sort of coming back here to the US -- fight again in what has. -- been up to since. We'll Kyle has left the army so -- chilling the other soldier whose life he rescued that day. Kyle is now working as an investment banker in Charlotte, North Carolina. And -- is back in his hometown in Iowa. I'm in an -- Jon Karl spoke with both of them and McCain Schilling really talked about the PP ST that he lives pretty much every -- he said it. He lives with the memory of that firefight. Every single day. Kyle wife who we saw honored today. Told John that he had initial struggles but that he hasn't -- he said that. That today's ceremonies really not an awarding of an of the matter valor for him but something that should be shared with all of his colleagues especially the six that they didn't make it that day. But he said that even though he's doing better psychologically. The -- this event this ambush -- back in 2007. Is something that will remain with him forever particularly the memory of those who rely sent. And with so many stories of courage under fire coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq before at the White House is often criticized. For not awarding enough medal of honors what does the White House response to this. Whether it has response is that they're going through the process this is a very complicated process. In terms of interviewing witnesses. -- corroborating. The information that we submitted. And there's also a statute of limitations -- -- if you will. For wind military officers can submit or recommend. That those under their command should receive the medal of honor -- sometimes that expires and so there has to be re initiate. But in this case right now we've had the fourteenth medal of honor awarded for the services in Iraq and Afghanistan the -- for Afghanistan's you're seeing way more. For Afghanistan and for Iraq but the military says that -- there are others in the pipeline. And that they are being honored in due course there's actually been reporting that another marine will soon be announced as being another recipient of the medal of honor. His name is out there but the White House so far has not totally and that has not announced. Officially that he is going to receive -- -- so it there are there is paperwork in the pipeline and there is anticipation that there will be more. And that they have definitely the pace is definitely picked up in recent years. The ceremony was also different from many others in part because who was in the audience can you tell us a little bit more about that. Well there are a lot of survivors from an ambush this was a fourteen man team that. -- struck in men and -- negatives of. A village meeting with elders. And then all of a sudden they came under attack. And in so you had a lot of survivors from that incident there in the audience. There -- 88 circle. A bond that -- between. These individuals who survive something like that and of course -- win. You have you heard -- talk about how Kyle likes it Jon Karl. -- this -- isn't really about me this is about my comrades bomb squad mates. And that's why they're there because it's it's there for everyone to be present for something like this and this group of course. -- that moment today to share this ABC's Louis Martinez that the Pentagon thank you. And of course for more on the medal of honor recipient Carl -- remarkable story you can go to Yahoo! News dot com. -- ABC news chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl interviews. White for power players politics confidential. This is that an ABC news live coverage of President Obama presenting former sergeant Kyle -- the Afghan war hero. With the medal of honor get more on this remarkable story on the ABC news that -- the headline for exclusive updates. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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