Bonney Lake native receives Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON — When President Barack Obama draped the Medal of Honor around former Army Sgt. Kyle White’s neck, the Bonney Lake native became just the seventh living recipient of the nation’s highest military honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It wasn’t until after Obama shook White’s hand that emotions overcame the 27-year-old.

His eyes welled up and his cheeks reddened as he looked out at his parents and fellow soldiers standing and applauding. In addition to his parents, Cheryl and Curt, White was also joined by his girlfriend and members of his unit in Afghanistan, the 2nd Battalion, Chosen Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Obama praised White’s valor under the most extreme conditions when, on Nov. 9, 2007, his platoon was ambushed on the side of a mountain in Aranas, Afghanistan. White endured two concussions and shrapnel in his face, yet he kept firing his rifle to keep the enemy back and pulled wounded soldiers to cover during the deadly firefight that killed six Americans and three Afghan National Army soldiers. Eight other American soldiers were wounded.

“One battalion commander remembered that ‘all of Afghanistan’ was listening as a soldier on the ground described what was happening,” Obama said. “They knew him by his call sign — Charlie One Six Romeo. We know it was Kyle.”

White left the Army in 2011 and now works as an investment analyst in Charlotte.

He enlisted in the Army after high school in 2006. He trained at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade based at Camp Ederle in Italy. He served a combat tour in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008.

He left the Army in 2011 and later enrolled at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where he obtained a degree in finance. He started work this year at Royal Bank of Canada in Charlotte.

On that November night in 2007, he was a 20-year-old Army specialist and serving as a radio-telephone operator. He and 13 members of his team, along with a squad of Afghan soldiers, left an Afghan village after a meeting with elders. They made their way up an exposed ridge, single file, headed into an area known as “ambush alley.”

A single shot rang out. Then another. And then, Obama said, the entire canyon erupted, with bullets coming from all directions. White recalled that the whole valley “lit up.”

An explosion from a rocket-propelled grenade knocked White unconscious. He awoke with his face pressed against a rock. Enemy rounds hit just inches from his head, sending shrapnel and rock shards across his face.

As enemy fire ricocheted around him, White sprinted several times into a large open space to, bit by bit, pull a wounded Marine to cover. He fired his weapon to keep the enemy back and treated another soldier who had been badly shot in the arm.

“Kyle, members of Chosen Company, you did your duty, and now it’s time for America to do ours,” Obama said. “After more than a decade of war, to welcome you home with the support and the benefits and opportunities that you’ve earned. You make us proud, and you motivate all of us to be the best we can be.”

White now wears a stainless steel bracelet around his wrist. After the ceremony, he told reporters that the bracelet is perhaps more precious to him than the medal around his neck. It was given to him by another soldier who survived that night. Etched into the bracelet are the names of the six members of his team that died in the fight. White said their sacrifice motivates him.

“Without the team there could be no Medal of Honor,” White said. “That is why I wear this medal for my team.”

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read