Correction appended, May 20
Cpl. Kyle Carpenter will become a Medal of Honor recipient for service in Afghanistan and Iraq, the White House announced Monday.
Carpenter threw himself in front of another corporal in Marjah, Afghanistan, to shield him from a grenade blast — an act that cost him an eye and much of his jaw but earned him the military’s top honor, the Associated Press reports. It took more than two years to reconstruct his face and mend other injuries, which included broken limbs and a collapsed long.
The 24-year-old, who medically retired last year and is now a full-time student at the University of South Carolina, says he barely remembers the blast.
“I remember my buddies yelling at me, it sounded like they were a football field away. I remember them yelling, you know, you’re gonna make it, you’re gonna make it. And I just kept trying to tell them that I was gonna die,” Carpenter told reporters during an interview at the Pentagon.
President Barack Obama will award him the medal in a White House ceremony on June 19.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of people awarded the Medal of Honor.