Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He came from a family of veterans, married his high school sweetheart, Tammy, and had three kids.

On Oct 3, 2009, everything changed.

In a predawn ambush at COP Keating, a combat outpost in Nuristan province near the Pakistan border, 300 Taliban stormed the base where 50 American soldiers became sitting ducks in a valley surrounded by mountains owned by the enemy.

“What happened next has been described as one of the most intense battles of the entire war in Afghanistan,” President Obama said during the Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House on Monday.

“The attackers had the advantage — the high ground, the mountains above,” the president continued. “And they were unleashing everything they had — rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns, mortars; snipers taking aim. To those Americans down below, the fire was coming in from every single direction. They’d never seen anything like it.”