“When The Guys Go, They Take A Part of You With Them”: Surviving the Battle of Wanat

Ryan Pitts


SSG Ryan Pitts earned the Medal of Honor for the Battle of Wanat, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008. He credits his team for their aggressive and immediate reaction to the attack, stating that everyone responded in the way their training dictated. Ryan Pitts enlisted in the Army in 2003 after graduating high school as a means of delaying a decision about attending college. He wanted to join the Infantry, but since he was 17 at the time of his enlistment, his parents would not give their permission, so he enlisted as a 13F (Forward Observer) and volunteered for Airborne School for the jump pay. He was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and eventually deployed to Afghanistan twice. Near the end of his second deployment to Afghanistan, his unit was moved to the village of Wanat in the Waygal District, Nuristan Province. Five days after establishing COP Kahler, C/2/503 was attacked by approximately 200 Taliban fighters. SSG Pitts was at OP Topside during the attack, and fought back with an M4, M203, M240B, and grenades while calling in fire support. He was seriously wounded in the fight that claimed 9 American KIA. In this interview, SSG Pitts talks about his training, and how it benefitted him and his team during their deployments. He discusses the Battle of Wanat at length, and about many of the Soldiers he served with. Finally, he explores how combat changed him, and the responsibility he feels to those who did not survive.


name Ryan Pitts
institution University of New Hampshire
graduation year 2013
service Field Artillery
unit C Co, 2nd Battalion, 503rd PIR, 173rd Airborne Brigade
specialty Forward Observer (13F)
service dates 2003 2009