Corporal Kyle Carpenter, Twice Dead, Now A Motivational Speaker And A Wanderlust Traveler
Corporal Kyle Carpenter was seriously wounded when he used his body as a shield so he can save others from the grenade blast. The explosion shredded his face, collapsed a lung, severed major arteries, gave left entry and exit wounds in his skull and splintered his right arm. What’s really hair raising with his situation was that he had a hemorrhage right in the middle of the battlefield.
Kyle was deployed in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010. He retired due to his medical conditions and received the Medal of Honor.
This is his story…
In support of the Operation Enduring Freedom, he was deployed to Afghanistan and served as the Squad Automatic Weapon gunner. It was a very tough combat deployment. He used to patrol along with a group of marines on open fields and deep canals.
On November 21 2010, they were given the assignment to push south and take over another village, known to be the last enemy stronghold in their area of operation, so they can set up another patrol base. The risk, the distance, and the amount of effort to walk by foot while you are carrying all your gear was really back breaking. Finally, they were able to set up the new patrol base.
Their area of operation was as hot as it is and the fighting was constant from sun to sundown. Grenades kept on flying and injured some of the men. They had never seen grenades thrown from close range until that point of their deployment.
On November 21st, when Kyle and a fellow marine were doing a lookout position on top of a roof, the enemies sent them a barrage of grenades. Grenades started to explode one after the other. The last of the explosions came from the rooftop where Kyle and another marine was positioned as lookouts.
The grenade landed inside their sandbagged position. With complete disregard for his safety, Kyle lunged forward without hesitation and used his body as a shield to save his fellow marine. He jumped on the grenade to save another man’s life. He disappeared into the blast and smoke.
When it detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast. He was severely wounded and suffered a depressed skull fracture requiring brain surgery. He lost a third of his lower jaw and had multiple broken bones in his face. A shrapnel wounded his extremities and his right lung collapsed.
Knowing about the two marines manning a rooftop lookout security position, Lilly sprinted to the building and up the wooden ladder to see how they were. Nick was wounded by a shrapnel and was lying on his back unconscious, while Kyle lay face down in a pool of blood.
Kyle’s arm squished limply in his hand. One of the arms was badly mangled that Lilly had to pop his arm right off or it would cinch down too tight. No words can describe the pain and how badly hurt he was on that day.
His face was so injured it was torn into four separate flaps of flesh. His right eye nearly fell from the socket.
The medical corpsman had never seen anything like Kyle’s condition. His arm was so shattered it felt like splinting a wet rag. He inserted a tube through his nostril hoping it would help him breathe. It didn’t. He removed the tubing and out sprayed teeth, flesh, blood and mucus. Then, he asked, “Am I going to die?”
Aboard the helicopter, his heart stopped. They tried to revive him. There was a heartbeat, and then, it was gone. They revived him again.
Upon arrival at the Camp Bastion, neurosurgeons removed the shrapnel from his brain while the vascular surgeons repaired his veins and arteries. Torn flesh was stretched and sutured. The intention was to stop the blood loss and preserve the tissue enough for him to get stable so they can fly him to Germany and then, to the United States.
In Germany, he was in a coma and his state of awareness was unknown. His face was totally scarred and indistinguishable. He was still hanging on, not to mention that the flight from Germany to the United States was over 12 hours.
When he arrived in the US, the medical team wondered how much more his immune system could withstand. He had been given 12 pints of blood during his medical evacuation. His right arm was shattered and sustained a total of 34 fractures. The bones broken into shards.
Kyle Carpenter was in surgery almost every week. Surgeons repaired his bones and applied and repaired skin grafts on soft tissues. It would take months of reconstructive surgery to remove the brunt of the blast, dirt and debris embedded in his face.
He kept progressing until he was able to walk. On June 19 2014, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. While he is still recuperating, he was able to skydive and run marathons.
He also finished his BA in International Studies. What made him survived? He chose to get up and live! It was simply the decision to live.
Source: Vanity Fair & Washington Post, Kyle Carpenter Blog
Life of Corporal Kyle Carpenter. How he was ordinary, but did extra ordinary things.