Staff Sgt. Ty Carter is the 3,462nd recipient of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor. He joins an elite group of 78 other living Medal of Honor recipients. He was awarded the medal for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action at Combat Outpost Keating during the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha was also awarded the Medal of Honor for action at Combat Outpost Keating.
I don’t normally get nervous interviewing people. I have done broadcasts for ESPN and have asked questions to some of the most celebrated sports figures in the country, such as Steve Spurier. But this interview was different.
The Medal of Honor Convention is a big deal for Knoxville, so telling stories about it is a daunting and stressful task. Conducting a sit-down interview with one of the people most responsible for the convention is even more stressful. Yet, it’s not the legacy of the convention or the importance of the person I am interviewing that makes this a nerve-racking experience.
Joe Thompson, the co-chairman of the Knoxville Medal of Honor Convention, also happens to be my older brother, which is why I was so stressed when I sat down in the conference room of his office at Raymond James Financial Services.
Despite my initial fears, he turned out to be a great interview. The funny thing was that in all my talks with him outside of the official project, he never said as much as he did during the interview. I learned a ton of things about the convention that up until this point I knew nothing about.
The greatest thing I took away from the interview was that this wasn’t just a convention to bring together the living Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. The real goal of this convention is to preserve the memories and stories of the recipients, and to perpetuate their legacy. I can’t think of a nobler goal.
My hope is that whatever small part my fellow classmates and I play in this convention, we don’t forget why we are involved in this project. We are not here for our own gain. We are not here to pad our resumes, or to make contacts for future jobs.
We arehere to perpetuate the stories and legacies of these incredible American heroes. They all were selfless in the line of duty, the least we can do is be selfless in perpetuating their legacy.
Our interview with Joe Thompson will be part of a documentary, produced by the Medal of Honor Project, chronicling the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention. The convention will take place at the Knoxville Convention Center from September 9-13th, 2014. The convention provides an opportunity for the 78 living Medal of Honor recipients to come together to discuss their experiences and strengthen the legacy of America’s highest honor. For more information on the recipients, our documentary, or the convention continue to follow our project or visit the website for the convention.
I can’t think of a better word to describe the man who asked for a fist bump rather than a handshake when I first met him. I didn’t think he was unprofessional. Actually the opposite. It felt like he was greeting a friend and was excited to talk about something important to him.
The interview started with some background questions. I wanted to get the ball rolling and create a formal atmosphere. Then I moved into the territory that excited me most, hearing people’s stories. It’s like I’m traveling to a time period that I have no idea about. As Mayor Burchett talks about his World War II veteran father, I try to comprehend what it would like to be a twenty-year old trudging through forest with other men shooting at you.
Personal stories like these make the Medal of Honor Project come alive.
It’s crazy for me to think that our soldiers are sent off to a foreign land, perform heroic feats and are then plopped back into regular, everyday America. Mayor Tim Burchett expressed the same wonderment. He told stories of his father’s experiences coming back from World War II and told me about J. E. “Buck” Karnes, who earned the Medal of Honor in World War I and then became a Knoxville police officer after returning from the war.
The thing that struck me most about the interview was Mayor Burchett’s definition of hero. He said, kids look up to pro athletes and other personalities, who reached heroic heights with their “natural God-given gift,” but his hero reached heights higher than them and did it with his own two hands. His father, who served in World War II, is his hero. It’s not because he could hit a ball 400 feet or dunk a basketball. It’s because he was a man that put his country first and whose actions were worth looking up to.
While this was just my first interview for this project, it was one that I will remember. I am excited to share these stories of American heroes whose names are not on a jersey or light up a jumboton.
Our interview with Mayor Burchett will be part of a documentary, produced by the Medal of Honor Project, chronicling the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention. The convention will take place at the Knoxville Convention Center from September 9-13th, 2014. The convention provides an opportunity for the 79 living Medal of Honor recipients to come together to discuss their experiences and strengthen the legacy of America’s highest honor. For more information on the recipients, our documentary, or the convention continue to follow our project or visit the website for the convention.
We will have our first meeting on Monday, April 8th at 5:00 p.m. in the Scripps Lab Theatre. This will be an introductory meeting and everyone is welcome. If you haven’t already, please fill out the form on the student participation page before the meeting.
During the meeting, I will give a general overview of the project and its various components. Then we will start planning our coverage, including talking about what each of you want to do with the project and discussing story ideas.
The School of Journalism and Electronic Media has agreed to participate in a collaborative journalism project with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The Medal of Honor Project will be an ongoing educational initiative by students, faculty and staff who will document the stories of those whom have been awarded America’s highest military decoration. The project will be completed in conjunction with the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention, which will be held in Knoxville, Tenn.
Students, who participate in the project, will have unprecedented access to nearly all of the 80 living Medal of Honor recipients and will create portfolio-quality print, audio, and video content that will be distributed locally and nationally. Participants will also cover the 2014 Medal Honor Convention and events leading up to the convention.
The Medal of Honor Project will utilize a hybrid class-club design. The project will operate similar to other student organizations, such as our numerous student media groups, except that students serving in leadership positions will be eligible to receive course credit via an independent study supervised by the project director, Prof. Nick Geidner.
If you are interested in participating in the Medal of Honor Project, please fill out the form below.
On February 11, 2013 President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha. The award was earned on October 3, 2009 for action in Afghanistan. Romesha is the seventh Medal of Honor recipient from the war in Afghanistan and the fourth living recipient, since Vietnam. After the jump you can read Romesha’s Medal of Honor citation and watch the East Room ceremony.