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Robb Jeffries, Forum News Service, Published March 03 2013

North Dakota Medal of Honor recipient credits 'battle buddies'

GRAND FORKS - Standing before future Army officers at UND Saturday night, Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha stressed the importance of teamwork.

“Without the team that day, without my battle buddies to my left and my right, we wouldn’t have made it,” he said. “It is a team award.”

The retired staff sergeant, who now lives in Minot, received the nation’s highest military decoration last month for repeatedly risking his life to save fellow soldiers, and rally them to repel an enemy attack on their outpost in Afghanistan.

The magnitude of the honor is still sinking in, he said. “It’s just an honor to share it with friends, and with my family.”

Romesha talked with the ROTC cadets about teamwork both with their Army comrades and with their families and other civilians.

He emphasized the role his wife, Tammy, has played in his Army career. “I knew with her that everything would be under control back home,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about that, so I could focus more on what I was doing out there.”

Romesha was introduced to the crowd of around 200 cadets and guests at the Fighting Sioux Battalion Military Ball by Lt. Col. Josh Sauls, UND professor of military science.

“There have been 11 Medals of Honor given since 9/11, and we have been at war for going on 12 years,” Sauls said. “Thousands and thousands have served. That goes to show you how special Sgt. Romesha is.”

Cadet Captain Nathan Lehrke said having Romesha speak made an impact. “He is someone that sets a great example of bravery for us.”

Romesha enlisted in the Army in September 1999, and has been deployed to twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.

He said, as a man who enlisted in a time of peace, that the cadets committing to serve during a time of war was much more impressive.

According to Romesha’s Medal of Honor citation, around 300 Taliban insurgents attacked descended from the mountains early Oct. 3, 2009, to attack Combat Outpost Keating in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

Romesha quickly reacted under heavy enemy fire to organize about 50 troops, most of them Americans, in the outpost to defend their position. At one point, the citation said, he took out an enemy machine gun team.

President Barack Obama gave Romesha the medal at a Feb. 11 ceremony at the White House.