Edit: It has been brought to our attention that recent Army MOH recipient Kyle White began the tradition of live online Q-and-As earlier this year. Kyle Carpenter participated in the first of these events for the Marine Corps, though. We’ve updated this post to reflect that.
Marine Corps hero Kyle Carpenter made a bit of history today, conducting what is the first-ever live online Q-and-A with a Marine selected to receive the military’s top honor. He’ll receive the Medal of Honor Thursday in a ceremony at the White House, nearly four years after covering a live grenade to save a buddy in Afghanistan.
Over an hour, he answered about 30 questions from users, touching on everything from his favorite brew to his future plans. Here’s what we learned.
8. He’s a silkies fan.
The Marines’ iconic green short workout shorts have a cult following, despite being phased out in favor of a more conservative model a few years ago. But Carpenter said he still wears his “on special occasions.”
7. No infantry superiority complex here.
Now medically retired, Carpenter served as a grunt, but he didn’t indulge the infantry-versus-support personnel rivalry that has a life of its own in the ranks. When a user asked him if he hated POGs (persons other than grunts, a derogatory name for non-infantry Marines), Carpenter said no way.
“They are the force behind the infantry so we can do what we do,” he said.
6. He’s staying out of current Marine Corps politics.
Somebody asked Carpenter about his thoughts about women serving in the Marine Corps infantry, and he dodged the issue, at least for now.
“That’s a pretty heavy question,” Carpenter said. “I’ll get back to you with that later.”
5. Fellow college students treat him right.
Carpenter is now a student at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he hasn’t declared a major but is interested in Psychology. Despite his growing celebrity status, he said students there respect his privacy.
“I love college and surprisingly I don’t get asked a lot about my service,” he said. “All the students at the University of South Carolina are very respectful and understand that I’m just there to get an education just like them.”
4. He’s got a favorite beer.
It’s Purple Haze, a wheat beer made with raspberry puree by the Louisiana company Abita. But, he said, he’s not that big of a beer drinker.
3. Watch for him again this year at the Marine Corps Marathon.
Carpenter ran the Marine Corps Marathon last year with a not-too-shabby time of 4 hours, 28 minutes.
“I’ll see you at Mile 20,” he told a commenter who said she’d be cheering on the sidelines.
2. He had mixed feelings about receiving the Medal of Honor.
“I was very honored,” Carpenter said. “But I receive it with a heavy heart knowing that many didn’t make it back.”
1. “Going out with a bang.”
Carpenter described his thoughts during the times he felt most fearful on the battlefield (including, possibly, that split second jumping on the grenade) in a way that is sure to be quoted by generations of Marines to come.
“For a split second I was fearful because I knew I wasn’t going to survive,” he said. “But then I was OK because at least I was going out with a bang.”
Admins of the Marines Facebook page said they may get more questions to Carpenter to answer at a future date.
Here’s a question we didn’t ask, but wanted to: Carpenter has sported his combat injuries with pride, even wearing a prosthetic eye with a Purple Heart on it for a little while. After his Thursday ceremony, will he make history again as the first vet to sport a Medal of Honor eye?