Ryan Pitts was born on October 1, 1985 in Lowell, Massachusetts and grew up in Southern New Hampshire. In 2003, he enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 under the delayed entry program. He attended basic training and advanced individual training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
Pitts attended the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., before being assigned as a radio telephone operator for the 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment and 173rd Airborne Brigade at Camp Ederle, Italy from 2004-2005. He remained headquartered at Camp Ederle as part of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade from 2006 to 2009.
While assigned to the 173rd, Pitts deployed twice to Afghanistan. His first deployment in 2005 lasted 12 months. His final deployment spanned 15 months beginning in 2007. Pitts departed the active-duty Army in 2009 at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Ryan Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan on July 13, 2008, when a well-organized Anti-Afghan Force consisting of over 200 members initiated a close proximity sustained and complex assault against 49 Americans occupying Wanat Vehicle Patrol Base. An immediate wave of rocket-propelled grenade rounds engulfed the Observation Post wounding Pitts and inflicting heavy casualties. Pitts had been knocked to the ground and was bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds to his arm and legs, but with incredible toughness and resolve, he subsequently took control of the observation post and returned fire on the enemy. As the enemy drew nearer, Sergeant Pitts threw grenades, holding them after the pin was pulled and the safety lever was released to allow a nearly immediate detonation on the hostile forces. Unable to stand on his own and near death because of the severity of his wounds and blood loss, Pitts continued to lay suppressive fire until a two-man reinforcement team arrived. He quickly assisted them by giving up his main weapon and gathering ammunition all while continually lobbing fragmentary grenades until these were expended. At this point, Pitts crawled to the northern position radio and described the situation to the command post as the enemy continued to try and isolate the Observation Post from the main Patrol Base. With the enemy close enough for him to hear their voices and with total disregard for his own life, Pitts whispered in radio situation reports and conveyed information that the Command Post used to provide indirect fire support. Pitts’ courage, steadfast commitment to the defense of his unit and ability to fight while seriously wounded prevented the enemy from overrunning the observation post and capturing fallen American soldiers, and ultimately prevented the enemy from gaining fortified positions on higher ground from which to attack Wanat Vehicle Patrol Base.
His civilian education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business from the University of New Hampshire. He currently resides New Hampshire with his family.