Veterans Voice: Sgt. Kyle J. White
Sgt. Kyle J. White was the 7th member of the U.S. Military to win the Congressional Medal of Honor in Afghanistan.
In early 2007, White was a member of the 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. White operated out of Combat Outpost Bella, Nuristan Province.
As a Part of Operation Enduring Freedom, they set out under the cover of darkness for the village of Aranas. They had arranged for a meeting with village elders the following day. They spent the night in an American built school for children of the village.
U.S. personnel had not been to this village for some time due to the suspicion that villagers had participated in an attack on a previous Combat Outpost, which wounded a number of American troops.
The meeting with villagers was to take place in the morning, but kept being delayed with the excuse that village elders were still praying. It was early afternoon when the meeting finally took place. The U.S. troops were hopeful that a large number of villagers had turned out, until they realized that most of the people present were young men of fighting age.
When a radio operator reported that there was a lot of “chatter” on the radio, which the interpreter could not understand, they advised the platoon leader that they should probably leave immediately.
As they climbed a small mountain to where there was a narrow trail, the men following them suddenly split off and went out of sight. Almost immediately the Americans came under a three-pronged attack. Some of the fire was coming from the village they had just evacuated. There was very little cover, so the leading members of the unit slid down a slope to where there was additional cover. The rest of the unit became separated on the narrow trail and was receiving extremely heavy fire.
White was armed with a fully automatic M4A1 rifle. He emptied his clip and was reloading when a RPG rocket hit near him, knocking him unconscious. When he came to, he was lying face down on a rock. Just as he was trying to recover, a second rocket exploded nearby, again knocking him unconscious and spraying him with shrapnel.
In the separated group with White were 3 other Americans. They were SPC. Kain Schilling, 1st Lt. Matthew C, Ferrara (platoon leader), and Sgt. Phillips A. Bocks. Once he regained his senses, he noticed that Schilling was wounded. He went to Schilling, attracting enemy fire, put a tourniquet on his arm, and pulling him to the cover of a small tree. White then spotted Bocks, also wounded and went to him, again drawing heavy enemy fire. White said, “I expected to be killed, so I decided to do what good I could while I was still alive”. He went back and forth to Bocks several times, drawing heavy enemy fire each time. He managed to place a tourniquet on Bocks, using his own belt, and began dragging him to cover when Bocks was hit again and succumbed to his injuries.
White found that all of their radios had been disabled, so he went for Bocks, again drawing heavy fire, and found his radio operational. He was able to first contact the separated men and advise them of his situation.
White called in mortar fire, artillery, air strikes, and gun runs from attack helicopters, which prevented the enemy from overrunning their position. But an artillery shell fell short and his near White, giving him his third concussion of the battle.
As darkness fell, the enemy continued to fire near their position in the hopes of drawing return fire and thereby noting the position of the American. He had hoped to wait until morning for air evacuation, but decided Schilling needed help sooner.
White arranged for Afghan National Forces to set up a perimeter, and then called in the Air Evac unit. White helped the wounded, including some Afghan National Troops, and he was the last to be evacuated. A total of 6 Americans were killed in the attack and there were numerous wounded among both the U.S. and Afghan National Forces.
White’s citation mentioned his extraordinary bravery under fire, his ability to take charge of the element when his officers were either dead or wounded, His repeated exposure to personal injury in order to provide aid to his wounded comrades, arranging for security from Afghan National Forces, and calling in supporting fire from both ground and air forces. He was told he exemplified the highest standards of the U.S. military.
White disregarded personal safety in support of his fellow soldiers. White said, “You are so focused on what you are doing you don’t even think about it, you just do it”.
In addition to the Congressional Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, White earned the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and a bronze leaf, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Medal, a Parachutist Badge, and an Air Assault Badge.
White finished his military career at Fort Benning, Georgia, and relocated to North Carolina. He received a degree in finance from the University of North Carolina. He now works in the banking profession.