Sgt. Kristopher Ritterhouse was honored during the “Angels of Battlefield” gala held recently in Washington, D.C. An Army medic with the U.S. Army, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 1st Battalion and lab assistant with Central Texas College in Vicenza, Italy, Ritterhouse was one of several military personnel recognized from each branch of service for their bravery.
On September 13, 2012, Ritterhouse received a traumatic brain injury during an intense firefight but still managed to come to the aid of his fellow soldiers. Ritterhouse described the events after he was knocked to the ground by an explosion. “I found myself lying on the ground wondering what had happened, bitter taste of blood in my mouth,” he said. “As I got up, my world shook and spun around me.” In spite of his injuries, Ritterhouse climbed to the roof of the building where other soldiers were located. He administered CPR, unsuccessfully however, to one soldier who had been shot. He then returned to the firefight to search for more injured soldiers.
It was then his injuries got the best of him. “The concussion caught up to me,” noted Ritterhouse. “There’s nothing I could do. I started throwing up, I didn’t know where I was. I was told, ‘hey you need to go downstairs. There is another medic waiting for you.'”
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell praised Ritterhouse for his valor. “Despite his own injuries, Sgt. Ritterhouse went into the fray of the enemy fire to answer the calls for ‘Doc!’ coming from his fellow soldiers,” explained Campbell. “Ritterhouse low-crawled on the roof through a hail of enemy fire to reach the soldiers, triage a gunshot wound and administer CPR. He then returned to the rooftop to suppress enemy fire with his fellow soldiers. In doing so, Sgt. Ritterhouse displayed the bravery, courage and commitment that personifies U.S. Army medics.”
In his words, Ritterhouse said he was only doing the job he loved, being a medic and helping soldiers during the hardest days of their lives. “I think the most important thing to take away from this, though, is there is nothing I did in my mind that was heroic, that was valorous, noted Ritterhouse. “I did my job and it is what any of us would do, medic or corpsman. That’s why they call us ‘Doc.'”
In addition to serving his country, Ritterhouse is a lab assistant with the Central Texas College (CTC) emergency medical technician (EMT) program at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy. He has been with the community college for two months working with students in the EMT Basic and EMT Clinical courses. He helps guide students as they practice their EMT skills, offers classroom lectures and observes and assesses the students as they complete their 25 hours of clinical rotations at the U.S. Army Vicenza Health Center. In addition to helping CTC students learn medical field EMT training, Ritterhouse can now teach them a little something about bravery.