Saturday, August 24, 2013

TFH Goes to Washington!

To everyone who's ever read a post here, commented, shared links, and encouraged the labor of love that is this blog - and especially to the American warriors who have received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, or Air Force Cross whose exploits in the defense of liberty have and always will be my focus here - I have to say thank you, for without you all, the story I'm about to tell wouldn't be happening.

Their Finest Hour is going to be breaking new ground - for me, anyway - on Monday, August 26, 2013! This is a story though that really begins on October 3, 2009, and for me in April 2012.

October 3, 2009 was the day of what is now known as the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan. On that day, sixty American soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division held off an assault on Combat Outpost Keating by an enemy force at least five times their size, who were also attacking from the high ground surrounding the base. The story of COP Keating both during and prior to the October 9 battle is masterfully told by CNN's Jake Tapper in his book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.

Thanks to Mr. Tapper's book, and the reporting efforts of him and others, the story of what happened at Keating is becoming known, although it sadly and tragically isn't part of the knowledge set of Americans too caught up on Kardashians.

Eight soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team belonging to Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry lost their lives that day. Another 22 were wounded.

On February 11, 2013, Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama for his heroism above and beyond the normal call of duty at Keating on October 9, 2009.

This Monday, August 26, Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter will become the second Bravo Troop soldier to be decorated with the Medal of Honor in a similar ceremony to that for SSG Romeshaw in the East Room of the White House. This will be the first time since the Battle of Ap Bac during the Vietnam War in 1963 that two still-living Americans will be awarded the Medal for actions in the same battle.

Now, for my story. In April 2012 I attended BlogConCLT in Charlotte, North Carolina. One much more well-known writer than myself I got to meet there and interact with was Andrew Malcolm of Investor's Business Daily. Andrew writes a "can't miss" blog at IBD, is a "must follow" on Twitter, and really bridges the generations between "old" and "new" media as he's been covering the political beat for over forty years.

Anyway, when I was able to introduce myself to Andrew, I mentioned that yes, I do online commentary as well but that the main focus of my blogging is retelling the stories of our nation's heroes, and he became very interested in what I was doing and how I went about doing it. It was really an inspirational conversation for me. Since we met during that two-day event in Charlotte, Andrew has forwarded me the press advisories and materials from the White House concerning the award of the Medal of Honor, for which I am also so appreciative.

On Monday, August 19, he sent me the advisory for the ceremony to honor SSG Carter. And I got this crazy idea...

With absolutely no expectation of being taken seriously, or even receiving a reply, this past Tuesday I called the White House and asked to be connected to the press office. I spoke to a very helpful staffer who sympathized with my reluctance to submit my Social Security number via email for clearance and background check purposes. He graciously took down my information over the phone, and told me that as the RSVP window would close at 3PM on Friday, August 23, if I was going to be admitted, I'd hear sometime after that.

At about 5:15 yesterday afternoon (8/23) I remembered that, "Oh, probably should check my email, just in case." I pulled open my iPad, and there to my wonderment and disbelief, was an email from the White House Media Affairs Office sent at 4:38PM. I was certain it was a "thanks but no thanks" message, but that was before I did a double, triple, and quadruple take at the subject line: "MEDIA RSVP CONFIRMATION".
The name(s) your outlet submitted to cover the Medal of Honor Ceremony Honoring Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter, U.S. Army on Monday has been confirmed.  All press must enter at the Northwest Gate of the White House on Pennsylvania Ave at Jackson Place. 
So, my friends, readers, and listeners, I will be witness to history on Monday as President Barack Obama hangs the highest honor our country can award around the neck of Ty Carter Monday afternoon! To say I'm excited is an understatement. Please make sure you're following me on Twitter as I'm sure I'll be tweeting up a storm Monday, as well as posting here and on Facebook. There may be some posts going up on some other sites too, and I'll make sure to let people know where they may be read.

Honestly, I've never done any original reporting, so I'm a bit nervous too! My CDN radio show Monday night will be LIVE from our nation's capital as my return trip (I'm taking Megabus - $37 round-trip from Pittsburgh!) doesn't leave until 11:45 PM Monday.

It's going to be such an honor to relate this event to you from a first person perspective.

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