Clint Romesha was at work in the North Dakota oil field the day he got a call that President Obama was about to be on the phone to congratulate him.
The former active-duty staff sergeant currently living in Minot would be receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, at a White House ceremony on Feb. 11.
"I'd heard some rumors before but I never really paid attention to it," said Romesha, with his wife, Tammy, at his side during a news conference in the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Minot Wednesday.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Clint and Tammy Romesha, who now live in Minot, talk at a news conference Wednesday at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Minot. The White House announced last week that Clint Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor Feb. 11 at the White House. He is the fourth living recipient to be presented the award, the highest military honor, for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"He (the president) made the call. We had a very nice brief conversation. He congratulated me and I just kind of sat there and then said, 'All right, let's go back to work."
"I got home that evening and told the family the rumors that we had been hearing were true. The president called today and confirmed it," he said.
The president announced Jan. 11 that Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in a battle that occurred Oct. 3, 2009, at Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, in Afghanistan. Romesha, a section leader with the 4th Infantry Division's Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry, 4th Battalion, and comrades fought about 300 enemy fighters who had attacked the complex. Romesha continued to fight although he had suffered injuries.
Romesha's Army career
When Clint Romesha deployed to Afghanistan he was with the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo.
Romesha started his Army career as an M1A1 tank crewman. His first duty station was in Germany. He did two deployments with his unit in Germany to Kosovo in 1999 and 2002.
"When September 11th happened, I was actually transitioning back or PCSing (permanent change of station) to Korea. I'd left Tammy and the family back in California and I went on my hardship tour to Korea," he said.
Fifteen months after being in Korea, he was deployed to Iraq for the first time.
"The first time back from Iraq is when the Army had made the decision that heavy armor was going to get a little more minimized," he said. He was transitioned from an M1A1 crewman to a cavalry scout in reconnaissance
"After leaving Iraq the first time, that's when we got reflagged to support the Infantry Division and we came back to Colorado," he said.
Romesha did the remainder of his second Iraq deployment and also his one and only Afghanistan deployment with Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Division. He left the Army in 2011.
Romesha, his wife, Tammy, and their children, Dessi, 11, Gwen, 3, and Colin, 2, are residing in Minot.
He said he came to North Dakota for the "great opportunities" here in the energy field.
"Thanks to the great training that the military gave me and being an old NCO (noncommissioned officer) all those great values of honor, duty, discipline, learned how to follow policies and procedures, to make on-the-spot corrections in the safety department, which I work, is straight down the same line," he said.
"It was a really good transition and my employer identified pretty much right away that those traits I had fit right in with their jobs." He's been with KS Industries, an oil-field construction company based in Tioga, for about 18 months.
During the news conference Clint declined to give specifics of the battle because he said he felt it would not do justice to a lot of the great things that everyone else did that day that he'd like to recognize them for.
He said it was a 13-hour firefight and it was a great group of soldiers who fought together that day.
"We weren't going to be beat that day," he said. "And seeing all those guys pull together you're not going to back down in the face of diversity like that. We were just going to win plain and simple. And with the help of those guys and everybody doing their part, we came out on top," he said.
Clint and his comrades about 52 of them fought about 300 enemy fighters.
Tammy said she was told he had been injured and already was back at work long before he was able to call her. "I had my friends, I had my Army buddies. He was with his 'family' over there in the deployment and I had my 'family' for support my Army family was there for me and we were all there for each other," she said.
Clint and Tammy grew up in California. He grew up in Lake City, Calif., and went to school in Cedarville, Calif. Tammy grew up in Cedarville.
Clint, 31, said he grew up in a small town/family atmosphere. "I always grew up with my grandfather teaching me that your actions will speak louder than your words and honor the family, and that's all I've ever tried to do in my life," he said.
Tammy, who joined Clint in North Dakota last October, said they have much family support in Minot her parents, Kevin and Lorin Small, and Clint's sister and brother-in-law, Tanya and Cody Howell and their children Brad and Trent, also live here.
Both of their families have a military background.
Clint's grandfather, who Clint said has been his hero all his life, served in World War II, his father served in Vietnam and his oldest brother served in the Army and now is in the Air Force. His second oldest brother served in the Marine Corps.
Growing up, he said that serving this country was something he would do. "That was just something I knew I was going to do," he said.
Tammy's grandfather and father served in the Army. Her brother also served in the Army and his spouse's family is very much Army related.
Clint and Tammy are making plans for the ceremony at the White House next month. The plans are for family members in Minot along with his mother, Martishia Rogers, of Cedarville, his father and stepmother, Gary and Diane Romesha of Lake City, and his two brothers, will attend.
Clint said they are still working the logistics but he's hoping a large number of the soldiers who also fought that day in 2009 will be at the ceremony.
Clint pointed out during the news conference that the Medal of Honor award isn't just for him. "It's for all the great things that the rest of the troop and the platoon did that day," he said.
The day after the ceremony in the White House, the Romeshas will be celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary.
Asked what he would like to express to the public about the work members of the military are doing in Afghanistan, Clint said, "Just support them. They're still doing great things over there and the sacrifices they make. Just support them."