This story has a happy ending, with then-Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter received a Medal of Honor awarded by then-President Barack Obama for the brave and selfless act when he selflessly jumped on a grenade to protect his fellow marines from the explosion.

Doing Something of A Greater Purpose

Carpenter was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and raised in Flowood by his parents. He enlisted at the age of 19 and completed his recruit training in July 2009. According to an interview, he served in the Marine Corps because he wanted to do something of a greater purpose and bigger than himself, regardless of the uncertainties that lay ahead.

Kyle Carpenter served as an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner. Courtesy of Kyle Carpenter/South Carolina Living

In July 2010, he was assigned in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to support Operation Enduring Freedom, where he was tasked as a Squad Automatic Weapon gunner. He remembered the crew chief handing him belts of ammo while they were in a helicopter on their way to their post, saying they would probably have an encounter even before they landed. At that moment, Carpenter felt everything was so surreal.

Jumping On The Grenade

On the afternoon of November 21, 2010, Carpenter’s fourth month out of their seven-month-stay in Afghanistan, his group was attacked. They were under sporadic small arms fire, but the enemy forces were able to advance closer while Carpenter’s team was trying to spot their positions. The structures and the vegetation made it difficult for them to see.

Even in a war zone, Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio (left) and Kyle Carpenter could find humor in their situation. Courtesy of Kyle Carpenter/South Carolina Living

Three grenades were then thrown, and they landed within their compound and inside their walls. The fourth, however, landed close to Carpenter and his friend, Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio, on the roof of their observation post, made of sandbags three to four high in a circular design. The subsequent events he didn’t seem to remember, but eyewitnesses and the thorough investigation by the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense that was done later showed a determined Cpl Carpenter jumped on the grenade, taking most of its impact on his body. Eufrazio received a shrapnel injury to the head, but Carpenter’s action deflected most of the blast.

The Aftermath

As reported, “Lance Corporal Carpenter was severely wounded and immediately evacuated due to a depressed skull fracture requiring brain surgery, multiple facial fractures, a third of his lower jaw missing, a collapsed right lung, and multiple fragment injuries to both of his upper and lower extremities.” He also lost his right eye.

He recovered from his injuries miraculously well, even quicker than Eufrazio. As mentioned, he was awarded the Medal of Honor four years after the incident.

Image of Kyle Carpenter receiving the Medal of Honor from U.S. President Barack Obama.

After his medical retirement in 2013, he enrolled at the University of South Carolina and received a degree in International studies in 2017. In 2019, he co-authored a book titled “You Are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For.”

When asked in an interview if he regretted what happened, he said, “I mean, I would grab that [grenade] and kick it right back,” he said, half-joking. “But besides that … I wouldn’t change anything. We’re both alive, and we’re here, and I’m fully appreciating my second chance.”

Thank you for your incredible service, Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter!