MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha, of Minot, said the experience of receiving the medal is amazing but comes with heavy emotions.
"It's really a true honor to be part of this experience," Romesha said.
Romesha, a former active-duty Army staff sergeant, spoke at the April 4 meeting of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee meeting held at Minot Air Force Base.
The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest honor. Romesha received it for his actions as a section leader in Afghanistan at Combat Outpost Keating in October 2009.
Romesha, who received the Medal of Honor on Feb. 11 from President Obama, said the medal and the events surrounding and following it have been "surreal."
"It's been amazing but yet it comes with a lot of heavy emotions what has happened. But really what I reflect to is it's not something you set out to go achieve, it's not something you wake up and think, 'OK, today is going to be the day I want to go achieve this.'
"It comes out of sacrifice and at times mistakes. And to be able to wear this is not for me but for the eight guys that we lost that day, for the soldiers that put the uniform on every day that in their own right every day is a sacrifice, every day they are heroes. Every day they do what's right not because they get told from their NCOs or their officers but they do it because they know it's right..." he said.
"There's heroes all among us," Romesha said. "I just happened to be recognized for doing something that I thought was just doing my job that day, and it's what soldiers do every day just doing their jobs. Heroes come from all walks of life," he said.
Romesha told the group that his wife, Tammy, was a Southern California girl who moved to northern California where he was from. Tammy Romesha sat at a table in the base's Doolittle Center, listening to her husband's talk.
"We met in grade school. I'm not a man of many words - it only took me I think four years to ask her out," he said.
Clint Romesha told the military and civilian audience that his life experiences in growing up in small communities include graduating in the top 15 in his class out of 15.
He said the town he was born in had 100 people and that his grandma used to run the old post office there until she couldn't anymore. He had to go 10 miles away to the nearest town to attend school in Cedarville which had 800 people.
Living in N.D.
Romesha moved to North Dakota after he got out of the service. He works for KS Industries, an oil-field construction firm based in Tioga.
He said the small-town communities and that small-town feeling here are "like being right back home.
"And then to come out here to experience this the community coming together with our armed forces, our Air Force... and building those personal relationships. It's truly what it's all about reconnecting as service members with the community that surrounds us and the community connecting with us and what we've got going on and building those deep and meaningful relationships to continue into the future. It's truly a great honor and privilege to be part of this and to see firsthand." he said.
"I'm really truly honored to be here," he told the group. He said they have thanked him for coming to the meeting "but really it's a pleasure to be here and it's a great honor to be here.
"Like I said, I felt right at home here in Minot, here in North Dakota. I like to think it's almost one of the last frontiers in America where the opportunities are limitless and the recognition for achievement is rewarded. The discipline of failure has been kind of lost in America today but up here if you try hard, you can succeed. It's set up that way," he said.
"It is a privilege to be part of this community," he added.
Romesha received a standing ovation from the group.