Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha, United States Army
Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Section Leader with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. On that morning, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to conduct a reconnaissance of the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner. Staff Sergeant Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds. Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers. Staff Sergeant Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter. While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Staff Sergeant Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center. As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters. After receiving reports that seriously injured Soldiers were at a distant battle position, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his team provided covering fire to allow the injured Soldiers to safely reach the aid station. Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, his team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of their fallen comrades. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers. His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s discipline and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army.
At 6 a.m., Oct. 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, came under complex attack by an enemy force estimated at 400 fighters. The fighters occupied the high ground on all four sides of the combat outpost and initiated the attack with concentrated fire from B10 recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, known as RPGs, DSHKA heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and small-arms fire.
Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha displayed extraordinary heroism through a day-long engagement in which he killed multiple enemy fighters, recovered fallen Soldiers, and led multiple recovery, resupply, and counterattack operations.
At initial contact, Romesha pushed to the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance vehicle battle position 1, or LRAS 1, under heavy enemy fire to ensure that the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher and Spc. Zachary S. Koppes were in the proper sector of fire and engaging enemy targets. After ensuring that Koppes was suppressing enemy activity in his sector, Romesha moved to the barracks and grabbed an MK-48 machine gun and an assistant gunner, Spc. Justin J. Gregory.
Moving through an open and uncovered avenue that was suppressed with a barrage of RPGs and small-arms fire, Romesha grabbed a limited amount of cover behind a generator and engaged a machine gun team that was on the high ground to the west. After destroying this team, he acquired an additional machine gun team that was firing an overwhelming amount of fire into the LRAS 2 from the switchbacks. As he was engaging, an RPG struck the generator and knocked him onto his assistant gunner. He quickly assessed Gregory and determined that he was fine. Not noticing his own wounds, Romesha re-engaged the enemy with his weapon system until an additional Soldier arrived to man the machine gun, at which point Romesha moved back through the open avenue to the barracks to assemble an additional team. Once at the barracks, Spc. Thomas C. Rasmussen noticed Romesha’s wounds and provided first aid.
Romesha assembled a five-man team and instructed them to load up on ammunition and crew-served weapons. While they were preparing, he again moved out to check on Koppes, grabbing the only accessible sniper rifle along the way, a Dragunov belonging to the Afghan National Army. Despite having only a basic knowledge with the foreign weapon, Romesha engaged multiple enemy positions on the north face, including a machine gun nest and sniper position. While continuing to expose himself to heavy enemy fire, Romesha engaged the enemy positions until they were no longer effective.
After engaging those targets, he moved back to the link up with his team. Enroute to that location, he saw three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s outer perimeter and were moving toward the laundry trailer. With a sense of calmness that inspired his Soldiers, Romesha engaged and destroyed the three targets with the Dragunov rifle and moved to the tactical operations center to give 1st Lt. Andrew L. Bunderman a report confirming that enemy forces were indeed moving inside the wire.
Identifying the essential need for ammunition, Romesha planned and led a mission to secure the ammunition supply point. Under withering fire and multiple RPG strikes, Romesha pushed his team to secure the ammunition supply point. In an attempt to provide covering fire for his maneuvering forces, Romesha used an M-240B machine gun team to secure a stronghold at a sandbagged position. He then led the team to clear the area support group commander’s quarters, and once the building was clear, he solidified his position to provide multiple sectors of fire to suppress the high ground to the west and the south.
While an enemy fighter attempted to breach the wire near Romesha’s location, a member of his team was shot in the arm, so Romesha returned accurate M-4 fire and threw multiple hand grenades to destroy the enemy fighter. Romesha evacuated the casualty and returned to improve his position. In doing so, Romesha engaged targets and suppressed enemy forces to allow the remaining Soldiers at LRAS 2 and Truck 1 battle positions an opportunity to break contact back to friendly forces. Romesha coordinated and led his men to clear the ammunition supply point and then set up positions to secure it. Once the ammunition supply point was secure, Romesha determined that the entry control point was the next obstacle that needed to be reinforced, because it was the only remaining enemy avenue of approach to the tactical operations center and aid station from the northwest.
As 3rd Platoon provided a base of fire to cover the assault on the entry control point building, Romesha led his team to secure and reinforce the entry control point building using an M-203 and a squad automatic weapon. After the entry control point was secured, enemy fighters engaged with a new intensity, sending a barrage of RPGs and B10 rounds into the building. Romesha informed the tactical operations center that the rounds were originating from the village of Urmul and the Afghan National Police checkpoint directly to the front of the entry control point. Calling grid coordinates to the enemy locations, Romesha enabled the critical 120mm mortars and air support to drop in Urmul and the checkpoint. As a result, more than 30 enemy forces were destroyed and Romesha and his men were able to hold the entry control point. Romesha’s reporting and ability to direct air and indirect fire assets allowed friendly forces to gain and maintain this critical objective.
After receiving reports that there were still friendly forces at LRAS 2, Romesha provided an overwhelming amount of covering fire to allow Sgt. Bradley D. Larson, Spc. Ty Carter, and Pfc. Stephan L. Mace, who was seriously injured, to withdraw from a previously pinned down location. Once the three Soldiers arrived at the aid station, 3rd Platoon was instructed to maneuver and support Romesha’s next objective: to recover personnel killed in action at the LRAS 2 vehicle battle position. Due to heavy fire, 3rd Platoon was unable to maneuver, but Romesha decided to push anyway without the necessary suppressive and covering fire. Under overwhelming enemy small-arms fire and RPG fire, with little support or covering fire, Romesha’s team pushed through 100 meters of enemy fire with few covered positions along the way. Upon arriving at the objective, they evacuated the bodies of two American heroes, Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos and Sgt. Vernon W. Martin. This maneuver, with great risk to himself and his Soldiers, prevented the enemy fighters from taking the American bodies off the combat outpost.
Throughout the day, Romesha understood the risks he was taking, and he knowingly put his life in danger to save the lives of his Soldiers and repel a numerically superior enemy force. Romesha was personally responsible for killing more than 10 enemy fighters with either a Dragunov, an M-4 or an MK-48, and an estimated 30 anti-Afghanistan forces with indirect fire and air support. He also led his men in killing a minimum of five others beyond that. Romesha recovered his fallen Soldiers and preserved the lives of several more. His heroic actions allowed B Troop to reconsolidate on the combat outpost and enabled him to lead the counterattack that secured Combat Outpost Keating.
Former Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha (pronounced Row-ma-shay) was born in Lake City, Calif., in August 1981.
Romesha enlisted in the Army in September 1999, as an M1 armor crewman. After completion of training at Fort Knox, Ky., he was assigned as a tank gunner with B Company, 1-63rd Armor, Camp Vilseck, Germany, which included an operational deployment to Kosovo.
After Germany, he was assigned as a gunner/assistant tank commander with A Company, 2-72nd Armor, Camp Casey, Korea. Following Korea, which included a combat tour to Iraq, he was assigned as a section leader with 3-61st Cavalry, Fort Carson, Colo. There he completed the Long Range Reconnaissance Course, Advanced Leader Course, and Air Assault Training.
Romesha deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and once to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
At the time of the deadly attack on Combat Outpost (COP) Keating, Kamdesh district, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3, 2009, Staff Sgt. Romesha was assigned as a section leader for Bravo Troop, 3-61st Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Romesha's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Achievement Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with 2 Bronze Service Stars), Iraq Campaign Medal (with 3 Bronze Service Stars),Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (with Numeral Two Device), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (with Numeral 5 Device), NATO Medal (with Bronze Service Star), the Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Combat Action Badge.
Romesha separated from the Army on April 4, 2011. He and his wife Tamara (Tammy), their three children, Dessi, Gwen, Colin, and Tammy's parents Kevin and Lorin, currently live in Minot, ND. Romesha works as a Field Safety Specialist with an oilfield construction company. He credits the Army's transition assistance program as being helpful in preparing his resume and engaging the company. Romesha equates his civilian job to that of a noncommissioned officer who establishes risk mitigation policies and enforces safety standard operating procedures. He says his current profession is similar to an Army observer/controller, identifying areas the organization can improve and making on-the-spot corrections.
Romesha has two older brothers, one older sister and a younger sister. His fondest childhood memories are of spending time with his grandpa, the late Aury Smith, a WWII veteran, on his small ranch in Vya, Nevada. His grandpa told him to always do his best, and that the integrity of the family name was Romesha’s legacy to be cherished.
When he gets time away from restoring his 100-year-old home, he enjoys watching and attending hockey games.