When a person enlists in the Armed Forces, they make a commitment to not just defend their country, but sacrifice the own lives in the process if need be. One young hero took his call of duty to the ultimate level when he jumped on a live grenade to save the lives of his fellow comrades. Usually when a solider makes the choice to put himself in the line of danger to protect others, its done at the cost of his own life, but not William Kyle Carpenter. He not only used his body as a shield to save the lives of his fellow Marines, but went on to share his incredible story of selfless courage.
Carpenter 21 years old when he achieved the rank of Lance Corporal and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. In the midst of a warzone, live battle was to be expected, and when a grenade landed near one of Carpenter’s comrades, he took no second thought before launching himself on top of the device and absorbing the explosion.
Amazingly, Carpenter was not killed, though he was left severely injured. Shrapnel was embedded all over his body, the bones in his face and skull shattered. He had a collapsed lung and had lost part of his jaw. He was even declared dead.
“My body was torn apart by an enemy hand grenade,” Carpenter said. “Upon arriving at Camp Bastion, I was labeled P.E.A. — patient expired on arrival. I flatlined at Walter Reed. The enemy killed me. I came back.”
Over the next two years, Kyle would undergo forty different surgeries to repair the damage left by the grenade, and receive a Purple Heart in recognition of his bravery. He was also awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama himself. Kyle later retired from the military and began earning a degree in International Studies at the University of South Carolina.
Today, he helps others through motivation speaking and charitable acts, and has gone on to inspire thousands. His story serves as a reminder that selflessness often comes at great costs, but that in the end, our sacrifices make us who we are.