The highest military honor a person in the armed forces can receive is a Medal of Honor.
On May 13 former Bonney Lake resident Army Sgt. Kyle White will be awarded this honor at the White House by President Barack Obama.
White will be the seventh living recipient of the Medal of Honor for those who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The first formal way of rewarding acts above and beyond the call of duty was established by President George Washington in 1782.
In 1863 Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration awarded to soldiers.
A year after graduating from Sumner High School, White joined the Army in 2006.
He said he always felt a pull toward the military.
“(Joining the Army was) something I felt I had to do for my country,” White said.
In 2007, he was deployed on his first and only mission to Afghanistan.
White is being awarded the Medal of Honor for the events surrounding a Nov. 9, 2007 ambush.
The honor is for a series of events over the course of the day, he said.
When his team of soldiers and Afghan National Army soldiers were meeting with village elders they were attacked.
When the ambush first started, White was knocked unconscious.
Once he regained consciousness he said he remembers waking up face down on a rock. As he lifted his head, a round from the enemy hit the ground in front of him.
As he touched his face, White said he could feel fragments from the blast had hit his face.
“It brought me back to reality,” White said. “I knew I was OK but it was a numb feeling.”
White said most of the other soldiers had made their way down a 150 foot cliff to get out of the line of fire while he was unconscious.
Along with White there were platoon leader 1st Lt. Matthew Ferrara, Spc. Kain Schilling, Marine Sgt. Phillips Bocks and their interpreter still in the ambush zone.
As White began to check on those remaining, he saw that Ferrara had been killed and Bocks was badly injured.
He managed to pull Bocks to safety but he later died.
As White made his way to Schilling, he saw he had been shot in the arm.
“I provided first line medical attention,” he said.
White stopped the bleeding using a tourniquet. Then Schilling was shot in the leg and this time White was out of tourniquets.
He said he used his belt this time to stop the bleeding on Schilling’s leg.
“Schilling credits me for saving his life,” White said.
White said the events of the day lasted roughly 16 hours. After nightfall, a helicopter came to evacuate them. White went only after those who had been wounded were rescued first.
In July 2011 when he was time for White to reenlist, he chose not to.
“I had intended to make the Army a career but after that day something changed,” he said.
White said he didn’t feel like his mind was completely in it anymore.
White has known about the Medal of Honor since Dec. 2007 and hadn’t heard anything more about it until earlier this year, he said.
“It’s a sense of relief that it is happening now,” White said. “It was always in the back of my mind.”
White said that day was a battle that wasn’t known and he said he is glad the story can now be told.
The message White wants people to take away from the day is, “This is just one story. Sacrifice happens everyday. There are so many other stories like it and there will be many more in years to come.
Since leaving the Army, White graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
He currently works as an investment analyst at the Royal Bank of Canada in Charlotte.