Team Room: We’re re-posting this article and video from for your convenience. Please take a moment to read and honor the actions of SSG Pitts and the memories of his brothers who could not make it home: Specialist Sergio Abad, Corporal Jonathan Ayers, Corporal Jason Bogar, 1st Lieutenant Jonathan Brostrom, Sergeant Israel Garcia, Corporal Jason Hovater, Corporal Matthew Phillips, Corporal Pruitt Rainey, and Corporal Gunnar Zwilling.

At a ceremony at the White House this afternoon, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts for his unwavering courage in one of the fiercest battles of the Afghanistan war.

In the summer of 2008, when our forces in Afghanistan were stretched thin across isolated outposts, Ryan was serving alongside 48 American soldiers charged with using little resources to defend a post with significant vulnerabilities. Mountains stood sky-high on every side of the village of Wanat, diverting aerial surveillance and delaying the heavy equipment they needed for their defense.

In the pre-dawn darkness of one fateful July morning, while manning this small, unfinished base, Ryan and his fellow soldiers were attacked by 200 assailants who were determined to take their post. “Those 200 insurgents were firing from ridges and from the village and from trees,” President Obama said. “Down at the base, a vehicle exploded—scattering its missiles, back at our soldiers. It was, said a soldier, ‘hell on earth.’”

Pounded by the relentless attack, every soldier was wounded almost instantaneously. Bleeding from the arm and both his legs, Ryan, at 22 years old, was the last man standing between the insurgents and his base. In his remarks, President Obama described how Ryan’s heroic acts helped not only prevent the fall of his post but save lives of his fellow soldiers:

As the insurgents moved in, Ryan picked up a grenade, pulled the pin, and held that live grenade—for a moment, then another, then another—finally hurling it so they couldn’t throw it back. Then he did it again. And again. Unable to stand, Ryan pulled himself up on his knees and manned a machine gun. Soldiers from the base below made a daring run—dodging bullets and explosions—and joined the defense. But now the enemy was inside the post—so close they were throwing rocks at the Americans; so close they came right up to the sandbags. Eight American soldiers had now fallen. And Ryan Pitts was the only living soldier at that post.

Soon, the enemy was so close Ryan could hear their voices. He whispered into the radio—he was the only one left and was running out of ammo. “I was going to die,” he remembers, “and made my peace with it.” The he prepared to make a last stand. Bleeding, barely conscious, Ryan threw his last grenades. He grabbed a grenade launcher and fired—nearly straight up, so the grenades came back down on the enemy just yards away. One insurgent was now right on top of the post, shooting down—until another team of Americans showed up and drove him back. As one of his teammates said, had it not been for Ryan Pitts, that post “almost certainly would have been overrun.”