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Kyle Carpenter

Claim:   Photograph shows a U.S. Marine wounded in Afghanistan.

TRUE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2012]

What is the story behind this photo?

 


Origins:   This item isn't so much an "Is this true?" entry, but rather an answer to a "Who is this?" query. The photograph displayed above has often been circulated on the Internet in conjunction with a preface that has been added to a piece about a putative 28th amendment, but nothing in that preface identifies the pictured Marine or explains his back story:
No one has been able to explain to me why young men and women serve in the U.S. Military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting freedom, and only get 50% of their pay on retirement. While Politicians hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these same men and women, and receive full-pay retirement after serving one term. It just does not make any sense.
The Marine in the photograph is Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, who was severely wounded by a thrown grenade in Afghanistan in 2010. His story has been covered extensively in the Marine Corps Times (which published back-to-back cover stories about him in January 2012), summarized as follows on that publication's blog:
You may recognize this face. That's Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2010 when insurgents chucked a hand grenade onto the roof where he and another Marine, Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio, were posting security.

In the months since the attack, as Carpenter has undergone numerous surgeries to address his injuries, he has become an ambassador, of sorts, for the Marine Corps and its wounded warriors, inspiring family, friends and fellow Marines with his undying optimism in the face of a difficult recovery. He has dined with Vice President Joe Biden, attended events hosted by the commandant — and even mugged for photos alongside college cheerleaders and UFC star Brian Stann.

Eufrazio, by contrast, weighs 100 pounds and is unable to speak. He resides in a Florida veterans hospital that specializes in caring for patients who've sustained traumatic brain injuries. These men's stories, writes Marine Corps Times senior writer Dan Lamothe, is "a classic example of the cruelty of war."

Carpenter came to our attention last year, when we received word that the state legislature in his native South Carolina honored him with a
resolution claiming he "took the full blast from an enemy hand grenade in seeking to save a fellow Marine." He and Eufrazio are the only two eyewitnesses to what happened that day on the outskirts of Marjah. Carpenter says he can't remember what happened in the moments right before the attack. Eufrazio can't communicate. The Corps continues to investigate the incident, officials say, and it's unclear whether all of their questions ever will be answered.

The story prompted a strong response from our readers — and for several of Carpenter's fellow Marines present that day to step forward to tell their side of the story. They're adamant in their response: based on what they saw, Carpenter deserves the Medal of Honor, they say.

This week’s cover story reflects that. It outlines what they remember and what the Corps has asked them to do as the investigation moves forward. Combined, the two cover stories share Carpenter and Eufrazio's ordeal in a way that no other publication has, more than a year later.

As we’ve mentioned before, the case is complicated by chance. All of the Marines interviewed for this story were close when the grenade exploded, but could only hear it and respond. Carpenter said he doesn’t remember what happened, and Eufrazio has been unable to speak about the incident due brain damage he suffered as a complication.
The photograph at the head of this article was taken in the South Carolina state Senate chamber in March 2011, where Sen. Jake Knotts presented a proclamation honoring Lance Cpl. Carpenter. The woman in the background is Kyle's mother, Robin Carpenter.

The preface quoted above includes the commonly repeated erroneous claim that members of Congress "receive full-pay retirement after serving one term." As detailed in our article on this topic, Congressional pensions are based on a number of factors, one of which is length of service.

Last updated:   10 April 2012

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Sources:

    Johnson, Robert.   "By All Accounts This Marine Should Be Next in Line for the Medal of Honor."
    Business Insider.   27 January 2012.

    Lamothe, Dan.   "Marine Hit by Grenade Rates MoH, Buddies Say."
    Marine Corps Times.   29 January 2012.

    Associated Press.   "South Carolina's Week of Legislative Action."
    11 March 2011.