MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
Thousands of Marines, Sailors and guests gathered for a noncommissioned officers evening colors ceremony hosted by the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., aboard the air station, June 23.
The ceremony featured the spirit of the noncommissioned officer and was entirely planned and conducted by 95 corporals and eight instructors from MCAS Miramar’s Corporals Course, Class 7-14.
“No one better represents the United States Marine Corps than the noncommissioned officer,” said Sgt. Julio Vegaflores, ceremony reviewing officer and a Corporals Course instructor.” Since we all can remember, [noncommissioned officers] have exhibited sturdy leadership, strong self-discipline, professionalism and inspired courage that’s paved the legacy for the Marine Corps today.”
One such noncommissioned officer was the guest of honor, retired Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter.
Carpenter was recently presented the Medal of Honor for his fearless actions embodying the principles of a Marine. According to the citation awarded by the president of the United States, in the name of the Congress, Carpenter received the medal for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team One, 1st Marine Division (Forward), 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 21 November, 2010.”
Carpenter, then a 21-year-old lance corporal in the Marine Corps, risked his life to shield his brother-in-arms from a hand grenade while serving atop a rooftop in an enclosed position. When the enemy launched an attack, it was Carpenter’s selfless and quick thinking that saved his comrade’s life when he lunged his body toward a hand grenade that landed inside the sandbagged perimeter of their position.
Carpenter sustained an unbelievable array of injuries, including a skull fracture and a punctured lung, explained Vegaflores. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival due to his injuries, but Carpenter did not perish. Carpenter endured approximately 40 surgeries during his recovery. Today, he attends the University of South Carolina, has run a Tough Mudder and the Marine Corps Marathon, advocates for wounded service members and is a motivational speaker.
“You see my fellow Marines, Cpl. Carpenter is an example for all of us; the epitome of a selfless patriot - someone to which to look to for inspiration when the odds are against us,” said Vegaflores. “So when we feel down, when we feel we can’t push - think of Cpl. Carpenter and what he went through to be with us today.”
Vegaflores said introducing Carpenter at the ceremony was an honor. He explained that honoring Carpenter at an evening colors ceremony, highlighting the dedication of the noncommissioned officer, was a motivating and fitting opportunity.
After thanking the chain of command, honored guests and the Marines of Corporals Course, Carpenter addressed the large crowd of people gathered for the ceremony.
“They say the World War II generation is the greatest generation, and I very much believe that,” said Carpenter. “But to you I say, we are the new greatest generation.”
After the colors were retired, Marines folded and presented the American flag to Carpenter. In addition to the flag, Carpenter was presented a noncommissioned officer’s sword on behalf of MCAS Miramar Corporals Course.
“It’s always special to be able to speak to Marines,” said Carpenter. “The fact that I’m no different than they are, just because I’m a Medal of Honor recipient. We all raised our right hand, knowing the risk and going into harm’s way. It’s a special bond that we share. We all wear the same uniform, bleed and die in the same uniform. It means a lot that they wanted me to be here, and I’m very honored and humbled to be here.”