Clint Romesha received the Medal of Honor on Monday

3:45 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
US President Barack Obama awards Army Staff Sargent Clinton Romesha the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House February 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor on Monday for his role in what is considered one of the worst ground attacks of the Afghanistan war.

Romesha, 31, will become the fourth living person to get the nation's highest military decoration for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.

A day after receiving the medal from President Barack Obama, Romesha will be first lady Michelle Obama's guest at the president's State of the Union address.

Romesha led a series of counter-attacks against an October 3, 2009, assault by hundreds of Taliban insurgents on the isolated and indefensible Combat Outpost Keating in a remote valley in the Hindu Kush mountain range of eastern Afghanistan. More than half of the outpost's 53 soldiers were killed or wounded.

A pre-dawn onslaught by insurgents firing mortars, rockets, heavy machine gun and sniper fire neutralized much of the outpost's defenses, leaving soldiers pinned down without immediate support.

Romesha was wounded in the arm by a rocket-propelled grenade, but led counter-assaults that included a charge across the outpost that regained control of the ammunition supply depot.

In doing so, he ignored an order to hold his position, pretending the radio was broken. His actions also allowed the recovery of killed or wounded comrades, and provided time to call in air strikes and other support.

"We couldn't just sit there and take it. It was time to be aggressive," said Romesha, the subject of the CNN documentary "An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha."

The U.S. military closed the heavily damaged outpost three days later, destroying what remained to prevent it from aiding insurgents in any way.

A few months later, a U.S. military investigation found that measures taken to protect the outpost were lax, and critical intelligence and reconnaissance assistance had been diverted from the base.

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