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Retired Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter said he felt “the weight of a nation” on his shoulders when President Barack Obama bestowed upon him the Medal of Honor on Thursday.
Obama said Carpenter “should not be alive” today after shielding a fellow Marine from a grenade blast in Afghanistan in 2010. Carpenter flat-lined three times, Obama said, sustaining a depressed skull and the loss of sight in his right eye.
"We are here because this man, this United States Marine, faced down that terrible explosive power, that unforgiving force, with his own body -- willingly and deliberately -- to protect a fellow Marine," Obama said.
Still, somehow he survived.
“As the president put the Medal of Honor around my neck, I felt the history, and the weight of a nation,” Carpenter told reporters after the ceremony.
The 24-year-old said he received the honor for both those who have and have not served in the military.
“I think about the Marines who were with me in Marjah. If I close my eyes today I can still hear their desperate medevacs being called over the radio as they bled out in the fields of Afghanistan,” he said. “Today I accept the medal for them. I will wear it for every person who makes up our great and blessed nation.”