Pitts was medically discharged from the Army in 2009. (Army)
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The presentation of the Medal of Honor to former Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts brings back into focus the controversy surrounding the aftermath of the deadly battle in Wanat, Afghanistan.
Nine soldiers were killed and 27 others were wounded in the July 13, 2008, attack, and family members of the fallen soldiers demanded the Army hold accountable members of the unit’s chain of command for failing to properly plan and resource the soldiers’ mission, leaving them vulnerable to the attack.
The families’ efforts prompted a Central Command-directed review that led to recommendations to discipline three officers in the battalion and brigade. The officers were later exonerated after they were given a chance to appeal and further review by the Army.
Pitts said he’s thought a lot about the battle and its aftermath.
“What it boils down to is we were doing our jobs,” he said. “We were paratroopers, we were in Afghanistan to go to war and carry out our commander’s intent. When you understand the battle space, every commander in Afghanistan was dealing with limited resources. At every level, we were trying to do the best we could with what we had.”
At the end of the day, the soldiers did their jobs, Pitts said.
“Everybody fought for each other that day, and we held our ground,” he said.
Former Sgt. Michael Denton, who fought alongside Pitts and earned the Silver Star, agreed.
“I’ve heard us called victims, I’ve heard a lot of things,” he said. “Tell people not to feel sorry for us. That’s the job we wanted to do, that we loved doing it.”
Instead, Denton said, “I just want people to know how hard the guys fought. They would’ve done anything for each other. They gave their lives so the rest of us could come home.”