- Mystery sign poster hits Washington state town: ‘It’s OK to say Merry Christmas’
- Pope Francis forms commission to advise on sex abuse
- Anthony Weiner on radio? Cumulus says, ‘Never, ever’
- Executive order: Obama ups green-energy mandate on feds to 20 percent
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- N.Y.’s Rockefeller Center lights up, as Bloomberg flicks on 76-foot Christmas tree
- Northern Ireland turns to ‘Game of Thrones’ to draw in tourists
- Washington woman live-tweets husband’s horrific car death
- China City of America mulled for New York — with $65M tax dollars
- Yemen defense ministry rocked by suicide bomber, gunfire
FENNO: Clint Romesha’s quiet Opening Day tribute a reminder of true heroism
The slender man emerged from the tunnel, blue suede shoes crunching on red dirt surrounding the field at Nationals Park.
The smell of grilled hot dogs and a cover band’s wail drifted in from the outfield, heralding the hope and hype of baseball’s Opening Day.
Few noticed Clint Romesha stop in the sunlight Monday morning. Average height, maybe a bit below. Red cap pulled low. A few days’ growth of beard. Black slacks. He could be your next-door neighbor, the sort of person who doesn’t draw attention to himself in a crowd. No hint, really, that the former Army staff sergeant received the Medal of Honor in February. Except for the jersey.
At first glance, nothing seemed special about Romesha’s white Nationals button-up. The red No. 8 on his back, though, pointed to the reality.
Romesha pushed away a temporary blue bracelet on his left wrist to reveal a black aluminum band covered with silver etching.
“These are the eight soldiers we lost that day,” he said.
For an instant, his voice choked.
The ballpark’s music seemed to fade. Same with the cries for autographs and whack of batting practice baseballs and red-shirted staffers scrambling to open a season draped in the mantra of “World Series or bust.” The band couldn’t be ignored.
Hyperbole and heroes are easy on the field. Do-or-die and can’t-miss and must-win. Legends. Pressure. Courage. All that. We throw the words around with all the care of an usher hucking a bag of peanuts. But the stadium eventually empties and leaf blowers roar on to corral the discarded peanut shells. Games end, but life doesn’t.
The eight men are why Romesha wore a No. 8 jersey as he prepared to throw the season’s first pitch. They go where he does.
All died on that awful day Oct. 3, 2009, when an estimated 300 Taliban fighters swarmed Combat Outpost Keating in northeastern Afghanistan. Fire poured down from four sides.
What happened next belies the quiet, unassuming person who tugged his left thumb against his slacks and rocked from side to side on the red dirt. The first pitch had him nervous. So, the man described in the 492-word citation read when President Obama hung the medal’s baby blue ribbon around his neck at the White House in February looked like a different person.
Romesha, who grew up in Lake City, Calif., playing high school soccer and rooting for the Seattle Mariners, took out a Taliban machine gun team. Shook off the shrapnel that peppered his body after a rocket-propelled grenade hit a generator he used for cover. Assembled a five-man team under fire. Grabbed a sniper rifle, an unfamiliar Dragunov used by Afghan forces, and led the group to fight back through heavier fire. Called in air support to obliterate a spot pouring RPGs and recoilless rifle rounds on the outpost. Provided fire so injured soldiers could retreat to the aid station. Pushed through yet more fire with his team to recover some of the eight bodies.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- FENNO: No obvious answer for Redskins in determining Mike Shanahan's fate
- FENNO: After another loss, Redskins a franchise in free-fall
- Learning to play football right: Some hope to bring safety back to game
- FENNO: NCAA finds way into Rep. Linda Sanchez's crosshairs over concussions
- FENNO: RG3's words not the Redskins' biggest problem
Latest Blog Entries
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
- American teacher shot and killed at Benghazi international school
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- NAPOLITANO: Liberty, the wellspring of capitalism and charity
- Pentagon may give recruits 'a shot to start over' after shameful social media posts
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- Young millennials shun Obamacare, creating risky imbalance
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- HARPER: 'Knockout game' not a myth to liberal Sharpton
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
Playing Through covers the world of PGA golf, as well as tips your the average golfer to play better.