A lot is being made over Ty Carter today, and rightfully so. Army Staff Sgt. Carter is being presented with the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama this week. He's only the fifth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Carter is a true American hero, a man who has already collected eight other medals -- including the purple heart. But if there's one story that really sums up who the man receiving the nation's highest military honor is, it's the way he learned that he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
The story -- as told to the Stars and Stripes -- goes that Carter was on a family vacation, a trip to Crater Lake that he'd promised to his wife and kids. He'd been ordered to take a detour, to stay within cellphone range. And so it is that a man the nation owes a debt of gratitude learned he would be receiving the country's highest award while he:
sat on the back of his camper, parked near a gas station in the remote Oregon woods, with his two dogs asleep and his kids arguing and his wife feeding the baby.
It sounds so ... normal, doesn't it?
He sound like any dad in America.
Perhaps that is because Ty Carter IS like any dad in America.
He's a heroic dad, a dad who, faced faced death multiple times to assist comrades during a firefight with Taliban insurgents in October 2009 when Combat Outpost Keating was ambushed. Two dozen men were injured and eight died during that fight, making it one of the deadliest battles for Americans in the Afghan war.
But still, Ty Carter is a dad. An American guy who takes a camper on vacation with his wife, kids, and dogs.
That doesn't negate his heroism. If anything, it only serves to ? what a hero he is. Ty Carter had more than just his own life on the line that day in 2009. He was a husband, a father, a breadwinner out there on the frontlines.
It's easy to conflate the images of these action movie "heroes" with the heroism of everyday men and women in the military. Easy, but misleading.
America's heroes are not the Vin Diesel or Arnold Schwarzenegger types.
They're regular men and women, ordinary folks like Ty Carter who, when push comes to shove, rise to extraordinary.
Image via US Army