Medal of Honor recipients tell Worcester Technical High School students to shape America

By Soctt J. Croteau Mass Live Staff September 16, 2015WORCESTER – Col. Gordon Roberts and Staff Sgt. Ty Carter stood in front of a crowd of students, faculty and guests at the Worcester Technical High School with their Medals of Honor around their necks and said the young women and men in the audience all have a chance to change the world.

It could be through community service, or serving their country, but everyone in the room can do something to make a difference, the two men said.

"Like in high school, like in grade school, every choice you make prepares you for the next set of choices," said Carter, who received an honorable discharge last year after serving in the U.S Army and U.S Marine Corp. "Every right choice and every wrong choice."

The two men visited Worcester as part of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's convention being held in Boston this year.

Then a specialist, Carter was in Afghanistan in October 2009 when his Army's 61st Cavalry Regiment was bombarded by rocket and heavy-gun fire. Carter grabbed a wounded soldier during the firefight and recovered the radio during the 12-hour long ordeal to push back the enemy from his squad's base.

As a specialist in July 1969, Roberts was in Vietnam and serving for the Army's 101st Airborne Division when alone he attacked four enemy bunkers. The bunkers were pouring gunfire on his fellow soldiers. He efforts saved 20 of his comrades.

But Roberts, who has since retired, pointed out that the Medal of Honor he received is very much due to the efforts of everyone he fought with on that day. People cannot rest on their laurels after receiving a good paycheck, or an award, he said.

"You're only as good as the next one. You can't live on that award from the past," Roberts said.

Carter told the students that they will have the power to vote when they turn 18 along with other life choices such as serving the country, going to college or even later turning to politics. All of that comes with the power to shape America, he said.

City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. who spoke before the two soldiers echoed the advice of Carter. Lt. Governor Karyn Polito asked the students to embrace the speeches of the two Medal of Honor recipients.

"Everyone here has the same ability to make a difference," he said. "It doesn't have to be valor on the battlefield, it could be service to your community."

Mayor Joseph Petty, who reminded the students that three people from Worcester have received the Medal of Honor, said soldiers who receive the honor never talk about their efforts, but the efforts of those who served with them.

"If you have the opportunity to ask a Medal of Honor winner if they're brave, they'll most likely say no," Petty said. "If you ask a Medal of Honor winner if they're a hero, they will tell you the men that the men and women who died, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, who did not come home."

A Medal of Honor recipient will say those who lost their lives are the brave ones, Petty said.

Scott J. Croteau can be reached at scroteau@masslive.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottCroteauML.

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