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5 questions only a veteran would ask Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts

We asked Ryan Pitts about bad MREs, "liberating" issued items, when he cost his buddies push-ups and more.
Marty Skovlund Jr. Avatar
ryan pitts medal of honor
Ryan Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor as a solider with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in 2008. We asked him 5 questions only a veteran would ask. Army photo, Marty Skovlund.

You never know who you are going to meet at the Army-Navy game.

As Task & Purpose staffers meet some of the remarkable service members and veterans attending the game outside Boston this weekend, we’re running them through our own brand of interview, asking questions that only veterans would think to ask.

Ryan Pitts received the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary acts of heroism under fire on July 13, 2008 near Wanat in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. Pitts, then a Sgt., was acting as a forward observer in Chosen Company, 2d Battalion of the  173d Airborne Brigade’s 503d Infantry Regiment.

As Pitts watched the perimeter of a patrol base, 200 enemy fighters attacked in what the medal citation called a “sustained and complex assault using accurate and intense rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and small arms fire.”

The base took heavy casaulites and Pitts was wounded. But while bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds to his arm and legs, Pitts took command of his observation post and returned fire and threw grenades. The fighters were so close that, after pulling the grenade pins and releasing the safety lever, Pitts held each in his hand for a few seconds so they would detonate immediately after he threw them. Still fighting and with the enemy close enough to hear their voice, he directed indirect fire by radio onto his observation post as the enemy attempted to surround his position, forcing the attackers to retreat with no prisoners and without capturing the high ground of the observation post.

5 questions for Ryan Pitts, Medal of Honor recipient 

1 – What MRE main meal are you trading away every single time?

Country Captain Chicken hands down. Get rid of it. It’s garbage.

2 – What’s something you messed up that caused everyone to have to do push ups?

My helmet may have disappeared on Kandahar airfield, that may have led to [platoon] having to do some push ups. I can’t fact check that for you, though.

3 – What is your biggest suggestion for solving the recruiting crisis?

Wow. You know, I think the Marines have to bring back that lava monster from back in the day. You know [as for the Army], ‘Be All You Can Be,’ or what was it? I see some of that stuff coming back.

4 – As the saying goes, ‘there’s only one thief in the Army, everyone else is just trying to get their stuff back.’ What’s the most interesting thing you ever acquired from another service member or unit?

You got to sign for all the B.I.I. [“Basic Issue Items” are kits of basic tools and supplies like cargo chains that are kept with an Army vehicle] and the Humvees. When you’re leaving Afghanistan, you got to turn over all the same equipment. I was ‘light’ some stuff, so I definitely went out after dark with my night vision and, uh, acquired that B.I.I. from many unsecured vehicles. I just liberated that equipment, I didn’t steal it.

5 – Last one: when you’re going on deployment, or a long training exercise, what’s the one creature comfort youre absolutely making sure you have with you?

[long pause] I can’t go with number one. [laugh] I mean,what got us through was just energy drinks. Red Bulls or Rip-Its.

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