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BISMARCK, N.D. — Gov. Jack Dalrymple and other North Dakota officials honored Medal of Honor recipient and former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha on Thursday during a standing-room-only state Capitol ceremony.
President Obama awarded the medal to Romesha on Feb. 11 for his actions defending Combat Outpost Keating, located in a mountain-shrouded valley in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. The military said eight soldiers were killed in the fighting and 22 others were wounded, including Romesha, who took out at least 10 Taliban fighters, helped lead other soldiers to safety and retrieved the bodies of fallen comrades.
"What Staff Sgt. Romesha accomplished while wounded and under heavy fire is remarkable," Dalrymple told more than 200 lawmakers, citizens and military members gathered at the Capitol. "He disregarded his own safety to rescue injured soldiers, retrieve the fallen and take the fight to the enemy. He is a true American hero and we are proud to call him a North Dakotan."
Romesha, 31, is the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. He also served two tours in Iraq during his 11-year military career.
The military said Romesha is the 20th North Dakotan to receive the Medal of Honor, which Romesha called "more than an individual honor."
"It's about all service members and the eight guys we lost," he said.
Romesha, who grew up in Lake City, Calif., left the Army a couple of years ago and moved his family to North Dakota to take a job as safety specialist for an oil field construction company. He lives in Minot with his wife, Tammy, and their three children.
The family has been on a "whirlwind" tour the past couple of weeks including visiting with the president and appearing on numerous television shows, Romesha said.
"It's been surreal, hectic and crazy at times but it's been really great," Tammy Romesha said.
Clinton Romesha, who works for KS Industries in Tioga, said he intends to return to work Monday, where one of his duties is "taking out the trash." He said he left the service to be closer to his family.
He and his wife celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary on the day he was awarded the medal by the president.
"I owe it to my family to be a dad and husband again," he said. "In my heart of hearts, I'll always be a soldier."