(NBC News) President Obama presented the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, to Marine Corporal William "Kyle" Carpenter Thursday.
Cpl. Carpenter earned the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on top of an exploding hand grenade to protect a comrade.
Carpenter suffered a collapsed right lung and severe trauma to his face and arm, but saved his friend's life.
"You displayed a heroism in the blink of an eye that will inspire for generations," President Obama said as he bestowed the medal.
Carpenter said he felt "the weight of a nation" on his shoulders when President Obama placed the medal around his neck.
"I think about the Marines who were with me in Marjah. If I close my eyes today I can still hear their desperate medevacs being called over the radio as they bled out in the fields of Afghanistan," Carpenter said. "Today I accept the medal for them. I will wear it for every person who makes up our great and blessed nation."
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