Medal of Honor Recipient Kyle Carpenter and the Men Who Jumped On Live Grenades Before Him



Despite what the movies might tell you, an exploding grenade doesn’t create a large fireball from which the receiving soldiers must jump into a body of water to avoid.  When a grenade goes off, there is a flash, boom, and hot metal shrapnel sent into every direction.

The effects of a grenade can be commonly survived by increasing your distance from the explosion and making yourself as a small a target as possible to the speeding shrapnel.  If, however, you were determined to maximize this weapons deadly potential on you then you would jump on top of it and wrap it in up in your body before it exploded.

At this point, the grenade is as lethal at it possibly can be.  Yet, that is exactly what Marine Kyle Carpenter did in Afghanistan and in doing so, his conspicuous gallantry honors all the men of war who jumped before him and did just that.

Jump on a Live Grenade

It is often said that when someone is shooting at you in combat, it doesn’t take very long for you to realize shooting back is the appropriate response.  In the same manner, when a grenade falls within closen proximity to your position, it doesn’t take long for you to realize that you need to do the military equivalent of scram.

Get out, duck, or lay on the floor with your hands on your head because something wicked is about to come your way.  For other men, they seem to do instantly the precise opposite.

via Deceased Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham's Blues on display.
Via Deceased Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham’s Blues on display.

There a long line in military history of men who have made this leap and yet it is still a rare enough occurrence that it typically if not always warrant a nation’s highest military honor.  For it is an act that invites certain death despite the fact that some have been able to survive such heroism.

Jacklyn Lucas, who at 14-years-old, lied about his age to enlist the Marines during World War 2.  This young man would fling himself on not one, but two grenades and live to talk about it.  In Afghanistan, British Royal Marine Matthew Croucher jumped on a live grenade but managed to use his rucksack to absorb the explosion.  He would walk away with nothing more than a bloody nose and be awarded the George Cross for his actions.

But tragically, most Medals of Honor for jumping on a grenade are awarded posthumously.  Marine Herbert Thomas did it a Bougainville in 1943, PFC David Smith in 1950 Korea, Larry Dahl in Vietnam, Jason Dunham in Iraq, and Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor would all die in the act as they took their place in the hall of heroes.  But in 2010, it would be Kyle Carpenter’s turn and fortunately for him, he was able to receive his award in person.

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