Medal of Honor recipient a guest at Edwards country club
Clint Romesha was honored for valor in Afghanistan
Clint Romesha earned the nation’s highest military honor for heroism in a 2009 battle in Afghanistan. But, he says, he’s not the real hero. The eight soldiers who didn’t come home are the real heroes.
Romesha, a retired U.S. Army staff sergeant, was the guest of honor and featured speaker Friday at the Country Club of the Rockies in Edwards. The club is holding a Sept. 11 golf tournament to raise funds for the Vail Veterans Program and the Military Warriors Support Foundation. The latter group is also associated with Hero Homes, a nonprofit that provides mortgage-free homes for select veterans.
In a conversation before he spoke to club members, Romesha noted that the homes aren’t a gift, but the end result of a three-year program that helps veterans understand finances home upkeep and other topics.
“It’s not a handout, but an opportunity to advance,” Romesha said.
The latest recipient is Destin Foree, a former U.S. Army officer who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Afghanistan. Neither Romesha nor Foree wanted to offer an opinion on the recent U.S. withdrawal from that country.
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Club Member Jim Thomason, himself a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, said this year’s Country Club of the Rockies event, the fifth, has raised about $175,000.
“It’s gone up every year,” Thomason said.
Romesha said events like Saturday’s golf tournament is another form of service.
“You don’t have to wear a uniform to serve,” he said.
After his remarks to club members, Romesha was asked how receiving the Medal of Honor has changed his life.
“Coming back (from the 2013 ceremony), the spotlight got put on me,” he said, adding that he felt awkward, and almost embarrassed.
“The heroes were those who didn’t come home,” he said.
After a time of shying away from publicity, Romesha eventually saw his medal as an opportunity. That opportunity led to a book, “Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor.”
That book tells the story of Romesha’s eight comrades killed during the battle in which he was honored for heroism. Romesha talked to all of the families of those men.
“I didn’t want to do a book about ‘Clint did this and that,’” Romesha said. That led to two years of interviews with comrades and family members.
The resulting book ended up on the New York Times Bestseller List.
When Romesha left the Army in 2011, he first went to work in the North Dakota oilfields. These days, he spends time as a motivational speaker and lobbying Congress and the U.S. Veterans Administration.
Veterans have a lot of challenges in civilian life, he said, and every individual is different. It’s also healthier for veterans to be in the company of others who have served.
“It’s not a one size fits all,” he said.
That’s isn’t the easiest message to take to the federal government.
But, he noted, “a lot of things are difficult.”
Every military member decorated for heroism is a medal “recipient,” not a medal “winner.” Those honored earned their medals, often at the cost of their lives.