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President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a former Army staff sergeant who stood up to an onslaught of insurgent attackers in Afghanistan to defend his post after all the U.S. soldiers serving with him were killed.

Ryan Pitts on Monday became the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest honor for military courage in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 200 insurgents waged an attack on his post in Wanat, Afghanistan, in 2008 in what was one of the deadliest battles of the war.

Pitts was wounded by shrapnel and the nine soldiers alongside him had been killed. Preparing to die, Pitts decided to make one final push to drive the insurgents back as they enclosed on the outpost. He held the enemy off long enough for reinforcements to arrive and push them back.

“It is remarkable that we have young men and women serving in our military who, day in, day out, are able to perform with so much integrity, so much humility, so much courage,” Obama said. “Ryan represents the very best of that tradition.”

Obama Awards Medal of Honor

July 21, 201402:20


— Andrew Rafferty