President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor Thursday to a veteran who took the blow from a grenade to protect a fellow Marine in Afghanistan back in 2010, sustaining major wounds, including the loss of his right eye.
Retired Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter received the medal during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He's the eighth living recipient to be chosen for the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Kyle doesn't hide his scars. He's proud of them and the service they represent," Obama said.
Carpenter, now 24, was wounded Nov. 21, 2010, while guarding a patrol base in a small village in Helmand province.
According to the Marine Corps, Carpenter and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio were assigned to provide security from a rooftop post, their presence concealed only by a circle of sandbags piled three to four high.
Enemy forces, which had moved in while hidden by walls from a compound across the street, lobbed three grenades into the patrol base. One injured an Afghan National Army soldier. The second did not detonate.
The third landed close to Carpenter and Eufrazio.
Carpenter placed himself between the grenade and Eufrazio to shield him. The blast deflected down, with Carpenter absorbing most of the explosion.
Eufrazio received a head injury from shrapnel. But Carpenter was severely wounded, sustaining a depressed skull, a collapsed right lung, multiple facial fractures, the loss of a third of his lower jaw and fragment injuries to his arms and legs.
He was immediately evacuated and required brain surgery. He lost his right eye due to his injuries.
Carpenter was a patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, until he medically retired last July.
He is a native of Flowood, Mississippi, and now studies at the University of South Carolina.
Obama has presented the Medal of Honor to 39 members of the armed services in the first six years of his presidency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report