February 5th, 2013
01:14 PM ET

Defending the "indefensible": Inside one of Afghanistan’s deadliest battles

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN’s Jake Tapper takes viewers inside the deadly battle at Combat Outpost Keating in an exclusive interview with Romesha and others who fought off the Taliban attack. “An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha” will air Thursday, February 7th at 10pET on CNN.

Next week, President Barack Obama will award former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha the nation's highest award for combat valor for his actions in repelling a deadly insurgent onslaught in Afghanistan in October 2009. He is the fourth living recipient to receive the award for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Romesha describes his thoughts about seeing Combat Outpost Keating for the first time. The remote outpost was at the foot of three large mountains and surrounded by a river on one side as well. By all military standards, the base was virtually impossible to defend because of the looming mountains that would ultimately give the Taliban a tactical advantage to shoot down into the base and offer deep cover to those fighters in the rocky mountainsides.

"This is a pretty indefensible spot. This is the exact opposite of when you open up the manual and look in to find the definition of finding a defensible spot, this is the total opposite of it," Romesha said in the interview with Tapper.

Romesha is being recognized for his courage at COP Keating against the onslaught of hundreds of Taliban fighters. With just over 50 troops inside the tiny base, Romesha directed and led several charges to repel the 12 hour long attack and regain control of the outpost which had been overrun.

The assault on the outpost in the eastern province of Nuristan goes down as one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan with eight soldiers killed and more than 20 wounded.

Romesha tells Tapper in an emotional account about his failed attempt to save a close friend, taff Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos, who was trapped in a vehicle which had come under heavy Taliban fire.

"There was movement everywhere. There was muzzle flashes everywhere. You just couldn’t pick them out fast enough. I tried to hold it as long as I could but when you’re the only machine gun pocking on the COP at that point you start drawing quite a bit of attention and finished the belt and scurried on back," Romesha said. "I called Gallegos and told him told I was sorry. I just told him I was sorry. I couldn’t hold that position for him anymore and they were still stuck."


Filed under: Afghanistan • Medal of Honor
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