WASHINGTON — A 24-year-old veteran who lost an eye after taking a grenade blast in Afghanistan to save a fellow Marine received the nation’s highest military honor Thursday in a somber White House ceremony.
President Obama walked from the briefing room, where he had just announced plans to send up to 300 US military advisers into Iraq, to the East Room, where he praised retired Corporal William ‘‘Kyle’’ Carpenter’s instinctive valor and called him a shining example for a post-9/11 generation.
‘‘Carpenter should not be alive today, but the fact that he is gives us reason to trust that there is indeed a higher power,’’ Obama said.
The dual events — Obama’s Iraq announcement and the medal ceremony — underscored just how much the United States is still realizing the human cost of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars the president pledged to end.
‘‘This United States Marine faced down that terrible explosive power, that unforgiving force, with his own body, willingly and deliberately, to protect a fellow Marine,’’ Obama said.