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Character Education: Interview with Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts (Afghanistan)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

Character Education

Hosted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society

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Please watch an edWebinar interview with Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts. Sergeant Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor for risking his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving in Afghanistan.

Interviews with Medal of Honor Recipients are part of the Medal of Honor Character Development Program, a free program that helps students build character and promotes responsible citizenship. The Medal of Honor is awarded for “gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of one’s life, above and beyond the call of duty.” Those awarded it drew upon their deepest convictions and values in the most challenging of circumstances. Their examples of courage and sacrifice can inspire us as we face our own challenges.

Sergeant Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor for risking his life above and beyond the call of duty while providing perimeter security at Observation Post Topside in Afghanistan in 2008. A force of over 200 had launched an assault using grenades, machine guns, and small arms fire, engulfing the Observation Post and inflicting heavy casualties. Although seriously wounded, Sergeant Pitts took control of the post and returned fire on the enemy. Unable to stand on his own and near death, he continued to lay suppressive fire until a reinforcement team arrived. Sergeant Pitts assisted the team by giving up his main weapon and gathering ammunition while continually lobbing fragmentary grenades. Sergeant Pitts’ actions prevented the enemy from overrunning the post, capturing fallen American soldiers, and ultimately gaining fortified positions on higher ground from which to attack.

Here are ways you can share this inspiring story and interview with your students:

  • Share Sergeant Pitts’ story with your class.
  • Watch the recording above to share and discuss with your class.
  • Take advantage of the free lessons provided by the Medal of Honor Character Development Program. For shortened activities specifically for you to use while learning has shifted to an online format, follow the Character Development Program on Facebook.
  • Please note that students are not permitted to log into the recording to protect student privacy.

This recorded edWebinar will be of interest to all teachers, school and district leaders.

 

Ryann PittsAbout the Presenter

Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Forward Observer in 2d Platoon, Chosen Company, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade during combat operations against an armed enemy at Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler in the vicinity of Wanat Village, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008. Early that morning, while Sergeant Pitts was providing perimeter security at Observation Post Topside, a well-organized Anti-Afghan Force consisting of over 200 members initiated a close proximity sustained and complex assault using accurate and intense rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and small arms fire on Wanat Vehicle Patrol Base. An immediate wave of rocket-propelled grenade rounds engulfed the Observation Post wounding Sergeant Pitts and inflicting heavy casualties. Sergeant Pitts had been knocked to the ground and was bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds to his arm and legs, but with incredible toughness and resolve, he subsequently took control of the Observation Post and returned fire on the enemy. As the enemy drew nearer, Sergeant Pitts threw grenades, holding them after the pin was pulled and the safety lever was released to allow a nearly immediate detonation on the hostile forces. Unable to stand on his own and near death because of the severity of his wounds and blood loss, Sergeant Pitts continued to lay suppressive fire until a two-man reinforcement team arrived. Sergeant Pitts quickly assisted them by giving up his main weapon and gathering ammunition all while continually lobbing fragmentary grenades until these were expended. At this point, Sergeant Pitts crawled to the northern position radio and described the situation to the Command Post as the enemy continued to try and isolate the Observation Post from the main Patrol Base. With the enemy close enough for him to hear their voices and with total disregard for his own life, Sergeant Pitts whispered in the radio situation reports and conveyed information that the Command Post used to provide indirect fire support. Sergeant Pitts’ courage, steadfast commitment to the defense of his unit and ability to fight while seriously wounded prevented the enemy from overrunning the Observation Post and capturing fallen American soldiers, and ultimately prevented the enemy from gaining fortified positions on higher ground from which to attack Wanat Vehicle Patrol Base. Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade, and the United States Army.

 

About the Host

Cathy Ehlers Metcalf joined the Medal of Honor Character Development Program as Vice President of Education in 2015 after serving as a Regional Curriculum Trainer. She now serves as the Executive Director of Education for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Cathy taught college-level writing for over 33 years in Southern California. Cathy’s father was a World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. Those experiences gave Cathy a great respect for both the Medal of Honor and a passion for service to our Nation’s Veterans.

 

To participate in the live edWebinar, log in with current version of Google Chrome or install the meeting app prior to the edWebinar on your computer, your Apple device, or Android device.  If you have a firewall in your location, you can participate on your mobile device using your cellular data (not your local network).

The edWebinar recording will be posted to this page the day after the presentation.

Join The Medal of Honor Character Development Program community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.


The Medal of Honor Character Development Program is a curriculum resource built on the values of courage, commitment, sacrifice, citizenship, integrity, and patriotism. Its living history videos and accompanying lessons teach students that ordinary people can meet great challenges and make the world around them a better place. Each lesson highlights skills such as writing, collaboration, and critical thinking. With two available curriculum options (elementary and secondary), the resources are appropriate for K-12 students and beyond. Assignments and activities fit efficiently into existing disciplines, time periods, and schedules.

 

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