Medal of Honor recipient dialogue at Worcester Tech

By Joshua Lyford Worcester Magazine September 16, 2015

The Blackhawk helicopter touched down on the Worcester Technical High School football field at 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, and two brave recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor stepped out to speak with students of the technical high school.

Retired Col. Gordon Roberts and Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, both of the United States Army, were welcomed with thunderous applause by Worcester Tech students and their guests.

"We stand ready to develop our next generation of outstanding character, ready to do service for this country," Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, Melinda Boone said, referencing the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp programs throughout the district.

Along with Boone, Mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, Worcester Tech principal Kyle Brenner and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito had welcoming remarks for the Medal of Honor recipients.

"They are truly brave in ways most of us will never know," said Petty.

Each of those making welcoming remarks to Roberts and Carter echoed a similar sentiment, what a privilege it was to be able to hear from these two American heroes.

"What an honor it is to be here and to hear from these two American heroes," said Augustus.

"With your help, they will have their legacy passed on to another generation," said Polito.

Following the opening remarks, the two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients were welcomed by students with a standing ovation.

Carter spoke to his service, what inspired him and the choices that currently enrolled students face upon graduation.

"Pretty soon you'll be old enough to vote into office the individuals who will decide if you are involved in a conflict," explained Carter. "You have power now, but you'll have a lot more power when you get the right to vote. You have the choices right now that will shape the future of America."

Carter went on to describe the experience in which he earned his Medal of Honor, in a 2009 attack at his small military outpost in the Kamdesh District of the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan. While he appreciates the recognition, he recalled the five soldiers who fell during the battle and how a particular segment of the "Star-Spangled Banner" stuck in his mind (the lyrics being "And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there").

"The firefight that I was involved in, we couldn't see the actual cloth of the flag," said Carter. "But, I felt it and I saw what the flag truly represented."

"The flag stands for the pride, the love, the ability to stand up for what is right," he continued.

Col. Gordon Roberts earned his Congressional Medal of Honor during in 1969, while in the Thua Thien Province of Vietnam. Roberts' platoon was pinned down by heavy weapons fire and the sergeant took it upon himself to begin a one man charge against four bunkers, having his rifle shot from his hands and helped move wounded soldiers out of the line of fire. He spoke on personal virtues, morality and his experiences.

"As you're going into combat, you can't be worried that there is anything less than full honor," explained Roberts.

Following the remarks of the award recipients, students were offered a chance to ask the two men questions. Students asked how receiving the awards affected their lives, if they expected to win an award such as the Medal of Honor, if they knew they would join the military in their youth and what the difficulties of combat are.

"In combat, the hardest part is the waiting," said Carter. "Even worse is when someone else is hit."

Following the speaking component of the event, Worcester Tech student Michael Ou presented the two men and other distinguished guests with challenge coins created at the school.

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