The Pentagon has recommended that the White House consider awarding the Medal of Honor to a living soldier for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to U.S. officials.
The soldier, whose nomination must be reviewed by the White House, ran through a wall of enemy fire in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in fall 2007 in an attempt to push back Taliban fighters who were close to overrunning his squad. U.S. military officials said his actions saved the lives of about half a dozen men.
It is possible that the White House could honor the soldier’s heroism with a decoration other than the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor.
Nominations for the Medal of Honor typically include detailed accounts from witnesses and can run hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. The review has been conducted so discreetly that the soldier’s family does not know that it has reached the White House, according to U.S. officials who discussed the nomination on the condition of anonymity because a final decision is pending.
Pentagon officials requested that The Washington Post not name the soldier to avoid influencing the White House review. Administration officials declined to comment on the nomination.
The nomination comes after several years of complaints from lawmakers, military officers and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that the Pentagon had become so cautious that only troops whose bravery resulted in death were being considered for the Medal of Honor.
Gates “finds it impossible to believe that there is no one who has performed a valorous act deserving of the Medal of Honor who has lived to tell about it,” said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, who declined to comment on specific nominations.
Source: Greg Jaffe and Craig Whitlock for the Washington Post.