A Nashua man who will be awarded the Medal of Honor next month says the recognition does not belong to him, but to his unit, and his fellow servicemen who died in battle.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts will receive the medal during a White House ceremony next month.
He is quick to deflect any credit, and says the award is a memorial to those who have laid down their lives in battle.
“I think I have an appreciation of life that I probably didn’t have before. And I know now that I’m going to live my life for those that aren’t here because I owe it to them. They gave me a gift and I’m not going to waste it.”
Nine soldiers died and Pitts was one of 27 wounded in the Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan in July of 2008.
Despite shrapnel injuries in both legs and his left arm, Pitts continued to fight off 200 enemy fighters.
Pitts says he saw several of his friends killed in action, including Sgt. Israel Garcia.
“There wasn’t anything we could do for him, other than for me to give him the guarantee that I would come home and tell his wife and mom that he loved them and he was thinking of them in his last moments.”
Pitts, now 28, was discharged in 2009, and has since graduated from the University of New Hampshire Manchester, and has a wife and a 1-year-old son.
He will be the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest military honor since 2001.