A visit with Staff Sargent Clinton Romesha
Staff Sargent Clinton Romesha won the Medal of Honor for his combat in Afghanistan in 2009 for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”. He has written the book “Red Platoon” to explain what happened to his unit there and he was our guest for a public speaking event at the Clay County Fair recently. I had the honor spending some time with him and interviewing him there.
David: “This country has been asking much of its solders. How many tours of duty have you had overseas and where?”
Staff Sargent Romesha: “I have done three deployments…combat deployments in my career. Two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. I did two peace keeping operations to Kosovo back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I kind of think that is something Americans forget though. I joined before 9/11. I joined in ’99. When I joined the army my dad gave me probably one of the greatest pieces of advice. I was 17 at the time and he had done two tours to Vietnam, so I was a 17-year-old trying to get my dad to sign for me, and he wouldn’t. He simply told me ‘not today, maybe not in 20 years. There may come a time that your nation may call upon you to go and see things no man should ever have to go, do and see’…and it’s very inspiring today to see, even though the global war on terrorism has been going on for almost 20 years, we still have great men and women raising that right hand voluntarily going over to defend this great country.”
David: “How long were you away from your family during this period? It’s something that we often forget…the sacrifices that are made by our soldiers’ families.”
Staff Sargent Romesha: “My oldest daughter was born in July of 2001. That fall, I deployed to Kosovo and was gone for 6 months, came back and was around for a little less than a year and I reenlisted and went to Korea. I went to Korea for 15 months and got deployed from Korea to Iraq the first time for 13 months. So for the first almost 3 years of her life I had seen her for about a year. . . a little less than that. I guess total combat deployment time was a 13 month deployment followed by a 15 month and then followed by another 12 month. That is a long time to be away from a family but it’s something men and women are still doing today. With less men and women serving, more is required. I think that is something we need to pay attention to. When we hear about budget cuts in our military defense, our National Guard guys are getting called upon more and more filling those gaps. We need to, as a nation, continue to promote the idea that everyone should serve. The next generation needs to be shown that example that the stuff we have today isn’t free and wasn’t just handed over… it was given in blood, sweat and tears. Make sure that the next generation understands that so we continue to have those volunteers sign up and still perform what this nation requires of them.”
David: “You served in the 4th Infantry Division that has some honored history of having fought in our wars beginning in World War I. I did a little research. William Shemin won the first Medal of Honor winner in that division in World War I. There were five Medal of Honor winners in World War II including Theodore Roosevelt Jr. There were 13 Medal of Honor winners in the division in the Vietnam War and you were one of three Medal of Honor recipients in the 4th Infantry in Afghanistan. How does it feel to be one of such a select group, including Theodore Roosevelt Jr?
Staff Sargent Romesha: “You know, never in a million years did I think I would meet a Medal of Honor recipient let alone be one here today. It’s still an idea that I have a hard time wrapping my head around, but that goes back to the fact that I truly believe we all have greatness inside us and you just don’t know when it might be called upon or if it will ever happen. I served with so many amazing men that I have seen do heroic things that it gives me hope leading into the future we will continue to have. Men and women serving and standing up and doing the right thing for the right reason. I still get called a nerd from my kids for my dad jokes. I still have to take out the trash every day. I kinda’ love that I don’t feel like I’m anything special but I am honored for the fact that my nation has recognized me for something I did…but more importantly it comes from the recognition from the guys that I served with that truly believed I deserved it.”
David: “How do your kids handle having a dad that is a hero?”
Staff Sargent Romesha: “I think my middle daughter is the best at it. I remember we were back home visiting my mom in northern California…we were eating lunch at a little cafe and one of the old timers came up to me that had gotten a copy of my book and asked me to sign it. And Gwen, without missing a beat says, ‘Well you know dad’s got really sloppy hand writing, you know you will never be able to read his name anyway.’ My two youngest are still trying to wrap their heads around it but my oldest…she went through a lot more of my military experience than the two younger ones did. I know she has always been very proud, but she has always been waiting for the moment that dad embarrasses her in front of the nation…as am I still capable of.”
David: “Medal of Honor winners such as Clinton Romesha inspire us as Americans. What inspires Clinton Romesha? Who is your hero?”
Staff Sargent Romesha: “My hero growing up was my granddad. Grandpa Smith was a man of very few words and would give us these little nuggets of wisdom and at the time you really didn’t understand them until you got a little older. One of the big things grandpa always used to tell us was never tell anybody how good you are. Those that have to tell people that, are just full of b.s. He said good men will always let their actions show for them and never have to tell anybody, as everyone can just see it. Another big thing he taught us boys was the only thing you leave in this world when you’re dead and gone is your name, and what do you want people speaking of your name when you are gone. Do you want them to say, oh that Clint was a liar and a thief or do you want them to sit there and say Clint was a pretty good man, he was honorable, he had high integrity. So always do everything you can to make sure that your name is honored.”
David: “Clinton, thank you for your service. Thank you for coming to the Clay County Fair. And thank you for inspiring us.”
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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