Clint Romesha on the Medal of Honor: “It’s not about me…it was everybody that day up at COP Keating.”
In An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha, anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper chronicles the compelling story of former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha, who led the courageous battle when Combat Outpost Keating was attacked by the Taliban on Oct. 3, 2009. Tapper traveled to Minot, N.D., to again sit down with Romesha to talk about his uncommon valor and remarkable service to his country. A highlight and a video link from the interview are after the jump; a full transcript of the special is posted on http://on.cnn.com/U6aqxa. Read more from Tapper on CNN.com about his special: http://on.cnn.com/YddFzE.
President Obama will award Staff Sgt. Romesha the Medal of Honor today at 1:30 p.m ET, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer will anchor the network’s coverage around the ceremony.
MANDATORY CREDIT: Anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper
Highlight from An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On February 11, 2013, President Barack Obama will award Clinton Romesha, a former active duty staff sergeant, the Medal of Honor for valor.
TAPPER: The Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor that a service member can receive. Romesha is about to become only the fourth living recipient to have served in Afghanistan.
(on camera): Where were you when President Obama called you to tell you?
ROMESHA: I was out on a job site covering our pipeline crew up here in North Dakota.
TAPPER: Was it just, “Hold, please, for the president”?
ROMESHA: When I picked up the phone on the unavailable number that popped up and the secretary was on the other line, you know, she asked me if this was Clint Romesha, and I confirmed yes. And she told me that “President Obama would like to talk to you.”
At that point, you’re just kind of are sitting there going, OK. Just Clint Romesha. This is weird. And I just remember telling him that, for me, it’s — it’s not about me. You know, it was everybody that day up at COP Keating. So many other guys that day made this happen.
TAPPER: Are you uncomfortable receiving the Medal of Honor?
ROMESHA: I was doing a job. And I know that there are so many great soldiers out there that would have stepped into my shoes and done the same thing. I just feel that I just did a job.
TAPPER (voice-over): But that job on that day was horrific. Eight friends killed. More than 20 wounded. Other survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. One soldier with horrifying PTSD who served at Combat Outpost Keating with Romesha died from a drug overdose. They are, to no small degree, haunted.
(on camera): How much is Afghanistan in the rear-view mirror for you?
ROMESHA: I still reflect on my time in Afghanistan. But when I’m doing that, I’m thinking of the quirky little songs that Jones used to play. I’m thinking of that Dr. Pepper that Red Platoon, you know, that was our drink forever. I’m thinking of the days in the gym, you know. I’m thinking about the constant, you know, teasing going back and forth between Mace and Kopas (ph).
TAPPER (voice-over): For Clint Romesha, it’s all about the buddies he served with, the ones he led that day, and the eight men who did not make it back.
ROMESHA: When you sit there and, I mean, you look to your left and your right you see those battle buddies, you know, on the ground, squeezing those triggers at that point, those are who depend on you, and those are who you depend on. That’s who I do it for.
The situation we’re in, in the here and now, regardless of how we got there, you know, being the team player and knowing I’ve got his back and he’s got mine. That’s what I reflect. That’s what I — what motivates me.
TAPPER (on camera): President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Clint Romesha on Monday at the White House. He will also be honored at the Pentagon on Tuesday, after which he will come back here to Minot, North Dakota, and continue with his new job.