On May 13, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Kyle J. White, a
former active duty Army Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous
gallantry. Sergeant White will receive the Medal of Honor for his
courageous actions while serving as a Platoon Radio Telephone Operator
assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry
Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during combat operations against an
armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on November 9, 2007.
of 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd
Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, pause for a photo in at
Forward Operating Base Blessing, Afghanistan, May 2008. Photo courtesy
of Kyle White
Sergeant White will be the seventh living recipient to be awarded the
Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family
will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of
Former Sergeant Kyle J. White separated from the Army on July 8,
2011. He currently lives in Charlotte, NC, where he works as an
Sergeant White enlisted in the Army in February 2006 as an
Infantryman. After completion of training at Ft Benning, he was
assigned to Vicenza, Italy, with 2nd Battalion (Airborne) 503rd Infantry
“The Rock” as a grenadier and rifleman which included a combat tour to
Afghanistan from May 2007 until August 2008. Following Italy, Kyle was
assigned as an opposing forces Sergeant with the Ranger Training
Battalion at Ft Benning.
Sergeant White deployed in support of the War on Terror with one tour to Afghanistan.
At the time of the November 9, 2007 combat engagement,
then-Specialist White was a Platoon Radio Telephone Operator assigned to
C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd
Airborne Brigade. His heroic actions were performed during a dismounted
movement in mountainous terrain in Aranas, Afghanistan.
White’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Army
Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and “V” device, the Army
Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct
Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign
Medal with one campaign star, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the
Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army
Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral “2” device,
the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Parachutists Badge, the
Air Assault Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Valorous Unit
Learn more about Sergeant Kyle J. White: Operation Enduring Freedom Army.mil
On Nov. 8, 2007, Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion
(Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173 Airborne Brigade, left Combat
Outpost Bella by foot to visit the large village of Aranas, Afghanistan,
for a Shura meeting with village elders. The American Soldiers weren’t
thrilled about the mission because the villagers had been suspected of
collusion which resulted in a major attack months earlier on COP Ranch
House which resulted in 11 wounded and the closure of the outpost.
Under cover of a pitch-black sky, the team made for the American-built
schoolhouse on the edge of the village where they would bunk for the
At daybreak, Nov. 9, the group prepared for the late morning meeting at
the mosque, but villagers delayed the get-together, saying the elders
were praying for several hours. The meeting was put off until early
afternoon, about 1:30 p.m.
White recalled that village turnout for the Shura was unusually large as
were the number of questions being asked. The Soldiers were hopeful
about the level of interest from the young village males of fighting
age. Then the 20-year old White said the interpreter was receiving radio
traffic in a language he didn’t understand. The lone Marine and
embedded training team member Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks then advised platoon
leader 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, it was best leave the area.
“There was one shot, you know, down into the valley, and then it was two
shots, and then it was full-automatic fire and RPGs … it was coming
from multiple directions,” White remembered. Carrying a fully-automatic
M4A1, White emptied his 30-round magazine, then loaded another, but he
didn’t get a chance to fire.
“An RPG hit right behind my head and knocked me unconscious … it was
just lights out … when I woke up, I was face-down on a rock,” he said,
recalling that as he was awakening, an enemy round fragmented near his
head sending a shower of broken rock chips and debris into the side of
his face. “I didn’t feel pain at all, just numb like when you go to the
More shots, more booms, more chaos … then White realized 10 of the
14-man American element and the ANA soldiers were gone. With no cover,
the remainder of the patrol had been forced to slide more than 150 feet
down the side of a rocky cliff.
The only ones remaining up top were Spc. Kain Schilling, Ferrara, Bocks,
the interpreter and White. Then White looked around and saw Schilling
had been shot in the upper right arm and was dodging and weaving and
running toward the cover of shrubs and the umbrella canopy of a single
prickly tree. White made for the tree which provided just enough shade
to make the two Soldiers nearly invisible.
White pulled out a tourniquet and asked Schilling, who was grimacing
with pain, if he could apply it. White could see where the bullet
entered and the blood was flowing from, so he slipped the tourniquet on
and instead of cranking down too hard, White said he tightened it just
enough to stop the bleeding.
“As I was working on him, I had the radio on, then I rolled over and sat
next to Schilling just to take my pack off, that’s when I got that
metallic taste, then that burning in my lungs,” White said, adding that
he and Kain covered their mouths with their shirts to filter whatever it
“Initially, I thought we were the first unlucky bastards to have
chemical weapons on us … that’s what we thought initially, but then I
saw a stream of smoke over my shoulder and I realized my pack was
smoldering — it was the battery from my radio burning up,” he said.
White checked his radio, then grabbed Schilling’s radio, but both were
out of the fight. Then White saw Bocks, who was badly wounded, lying out
in the open, about 30 feet from the shade of the tree. He began
encouraging the Marine to use all the strength he could, but Bocks
couldn’t make any progress.
“I knew he needed help and there was a lot of fire coming in, but it
really didn’t matter at that point, but by then I already had known,
well, shit, we’re not gonna make it through this one; it’s just a matter
of time before I’m dead,” White said. “I figured, if that’s going to
happen, I might as well help someone while I can.”
White sprinted the 30 feet to Bocks as rounds skipped around his feet
and snapped past his head, but he made it to Bocks unscathed, but
remembered thinking, his wounds were severe. He looked over at Schilling
and yelled at the interpreter to attend to the Soldier, but the
interpreter was pinned down and couldn’t move.
“At that time, I can remember thinking he wasn’t going to make it, but I
knew I wasn’t going to stop trying,” White said. “No matter what the
outcome, I’m going to do what I can with what I have.”
White grabbed the buddy carry handle on the back of Bocks’ vest and
began pulling the 200-pound plus Marine toward cover. He realized that
the enemy was now shooting directly at him and further endangering
Bocks, so he ran back to cover, waited until fire died down, then ran
out again repeating the process four times until Bocks was under cover.
White saw that Bocks’ leg was bleeding badly, so he grabbed another
tourniquet out of his pack, slipped it around Bocks’ leg and tightened
down until the bleeding stopped. Next he tore Bocks’ shirt open, saw
another wound, but it wasn’t until he rolled him over that he saw the
large exit wound. “Stop the bleeding” is all he thought as he stuffed
bandages, clothing, whatever he could to stop the bleeding. No matter
what White did, the bleeding wasn’t stopping and the Marine succumbed to
No sooner had White realized Bocks had passed than he looked over to see
Schilling get hit again by small-arms fire, this time in the left leg.
White scrambled to Schilling. Out of tourniquets, White pulled his belt
from his ACUs and looped it around Schilling’s leg.
“Hey man, this is going to hurt,” he said to Schilling who replied,
“‘Just do it,’ so I put my foot on his leg and pulled the belt as hard
as I could until the bleeding stopped.”
White next looked around for the lieutenant and noticed his platoon
leader, Ferrara, was lying still, face-down on the trail. Again, White
exposed himself to fire, this time crawling to Ferrara’s position. The
lieutenant was dead, so White moved back to Schilling where he began to
use Schilling’s radio until an enemy round zipped right through the
hand-mic blowing it out of his hand. Now both Soldiers’ radios had been
The paratrooper moved to Bocks and found that his radio was still
operational, so he established communication with friendly elements and
rendered a situation report. He understood the situation well enough
that he was able to bring in mortars, artillery, air strikes and
helicopter gun runs to keep the enemy from massing on friendly
“I heard a hiss, just a second of a hiss and then a big, big explosion
and that one brought me to my knees,” he said. “It scrambled my brains a
That was concussion No. 2 for the day, caused by a friendly 120-mm mortar round that fell a little short of its target.
After nightfall, White began giving the interpreter commands to relay to
the ANA to establish themselves as a security perimeter. Medevac was
still a few hours away, so White kept telling Schilling to stay awake as
he consolidated sensitive items — radios and weapons in a central
location to ensure no equipment would be lost to the enemy.
While trying to keep Schilling from falling asleep, White battled his
own multiple concussions. He knew if he passed out, the helicopters
wouldn’t be able to find them or the two wounded ANA soldiers who White
had also treated.
Eventually, White marked the landing zone and assisted the flight medic
in hoisting the wounded into the helicopter. Only after all wounded were
off the trail did White allow himself to be evacuated.
While many ANA and fellow Soldiers were injured on that autumn day
nearly seven years ago, five American Soldiers and one Marine died
during the battle which White and Schilling say they have never
forgotten and never will.
Each of the surviving Soldiers of the Battle of Aranas wears a stainless
steel wristband with the names of those who didn’t come home: 1st Lt.
Matthew C. Ferrara, Sgt. Jeffery S. Mersman, Spc. Sean K.A. Langevin,
Spc. Lester G. Roque, Pfc. Joseph M. Lancour and Marine Sgt. Phillip A.
AFTERMATH & LIFE TODAY
The only child of a Vietnam era Special Forces Soldier and his wife,
White first wanted to join the Marine Corps in 2006. His father
convinced his 19-year-old son — who grew up hunting, fishing and
snowboarding — to go Army and to be a paratrooper. In February 2006, he
signed on as an infantryman.
Following airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga., White was assigned to
Vincenza, Italy, with 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry as a
grenadier and rifleman. While with the 503rd, White was deployed to
Afghanistan as a platoon radio telephone operator from May 2007 until
August 2008. He next served as an opposing forces sergeant with the
Ranger Training Battalion at Fort Benning.
He separated from the Army on July 8, 2011, and used his G.I. Bill to
attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from which he
received a bachelor’s degree. Today, he works as an investment analyst
at The Royal Bank of Canada in Charlotte.
Former Spc. Kain D. Schilling who was shot twice, credits White with
saving his life. He said before White patched him up with two
tourniquets, he didn’t think he had a chance of getting out of the
Today, he’s well and serves as an armed security officer in Palo, Iowa.
Like White, he was also just 20 at the time of the battle. While White
and Schilling were friends before the battle, they’ve become even closer
friends who experienced a major trauma and the horror of war.
“Kyle still comes up once a year because he knows I have a family and
it’s hard for me to break away, so he comes to me … that’s really
cool,” Schilling said, adding that he’ll be at the ceremony. “I consider
him my best friend. We’re still very close after these seven years.”
Schilling said that while White didn’t actually get hit by any enemy
rounds, his pack was shot up and his weapon was also shot more than a
“I just want people to know, the fire he moved through was just
absolutely … I can’t even describe how intense it was, that’s what
amazed me, how he went to get Bocks so many times — faster than a
speeding bullet — he’s definitely lucky and so am I.”