NASHUA, N.H. (WHDH) -
A New Hampshire native was seriously wounded in one of the bloodiest battles against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and on Monday, President Obama will present retired Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts with the Medal of Honor for bravery.
But Pitts says he owes the honor to his comrades.
The dawn of July 13, 2008 opened on one of the bloodiest battles of the war in Afghanistan.
“We were attacked by an enemy that outnumbered us, had us surrounded, high ground element of surprise.”
Staff Sergeant Pitts and his fellow paratroopers were under attack by more than 200 insurgent fighters.
Nine American soldiers would die that day, 27 were wounded.
The New Hampshire native was hit as well; grenade shrapnel dug into both of his legs and his arm.
Pitts, however, refused to give up throwing hand grenades and manning a machine gun to protect the outpost.
“I think at that time for a lot of us, it was instinctual. We were just doing what we had been trained to do.”
At one point Pitts looked around his outpost and realized that all the soldiers that had been with him were gone or dead.
“When I thought I was by myself. I thought it was time. Thought it was my time, but just like everybody else I wasn't going to give up.”
Finally, 90 minutes after gunfire erupted, US soldiers secured the outpost. Pits is credited with helping to protect it.
Next Monday, the 28-year-old will become the ninth living service member to receive the nation's highest award for valor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“I'm sure it'll be heavy. Not just physically, but I'll be thinking of all my brothers that are there with me and all the guys who aren't.”
Pitts refuses to take credit for his actions, instead he calls the medal a memorial to everyone's efforts that day.
“Brother is a term that almost to me feels like it falls short, but I guess it's the best word we’ve got.”
Pitts was medically discharged from the army in 2009 and has since gotten married. He works in Burlington and lives in Nashua with his wife and their 1-year-old son.
“There are a lot of times I look at my wife and my son and I see the guys. They gave me a second chance. A lot of them saved my life and I wouldn't have what I have now if it wasn't for them.”
President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Pitts on Monday.
Pitts says he has invited many of his fellow soldiers from that day to the ceremony including the families of the men who were killed.