On Tuesday, July 12th, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor—our nation’s highest military honor—to Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry for his actions during a firefight in Afghanistan in May 2008. But did you know that SFC Petry is only the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq and Afghanistan? Since 9/11, over 2.2 million Americans have served in the wars but only nine have received our nation’s highest military honor. Each day this week we will share their stories of courage and valor in our Hall of Heroes.
- Sergeant Dakota Meyer
- Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry
- Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta
- Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller
- Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti
- Specialist Ross A. McGinnis
- Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor
- Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy
- Corporal Jason L. Dunham
- Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith
Born: 29 July 1979 in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Served: 1999 - Present
Rank: Sergeant First Class
Unit: 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Branch: U.S. Army
As a member of U.S. Special Operations, Petry went out on a dangerous daylight raid in Afghanistan in May 2008. Their target was a high priority Taliban leader. As the bulk of the unit secured the main building, Petry assisted another Ranger in clearing out the courtyard of a secondary building. The two Rangers encountered armed resistance upon entering the courtyard, and Petry was shot in both of his legs. Petry dragged himself and his comrade, who was also wounded, behind cover as he called for backup. As a third Ranger joined them, the enemy began throwing grenades at the Rangers. When one of the grenades landed next to their position, Petry selflessly picked up the grenade and threw it away from his team. He saved the lives of himself and his two fellow soldiers, but his right arm was lost when the grenade exploded prematurely. Undeterred, Petry coolly applied a tourniquet to his arm and continued to fight. The target of the raid was killed by other Rangers as he fled the compound in a vehicle.
Today, Petry is still serving our country in the Army. He is currently stationed at Fort Benning where he continues to train with his unit. He is the proud father of four children. To learn more about Sergeant First Class Petry, read his Medal of Honor citation here.
- LA Times: Soldier to receive Medal of Honor
- Army.mil: Wounded Soldier to receive Medal of Honor for action in Afghanistan
- Christian Science Monitor: Medal of Honor: Soldier who grabbed grenade in Afghanistan to receive award
Born: 25 January 1985 in Clinton, Iowa
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Unit: 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment
Branch: U.S. Army
On November 16, 2010, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Giunta was conducting a night patrol in the Korengal Valley when his company was caught in an L-shaped ambush. Within fifteen seconds of sustaining fire from extreme close range, Giunta acted instinctively to consolidate and protect his squad. Without hesitation, he pushed through murderous fire to link up with the men who had been at the front of the patrol. Once on point, Giunta shot two Taliban fighters who were dragging away a mortally wounded comrade, killing one and wounding the other. Giunta’s actions on the night of October 25, 2007 are attributed to saving the patrol from total annihilation. For his part, Giunta downplays his actions, saying that he did only what any other soldier would have done in his place. To learn more about Staff Sergeant Giunta, read his Medal of Honor citation here.
- Excerpt about Giunta's unit and the ambush from Sebastian Junger's War
- President Obama's remarks at the White House Award Ceremony
- Army.mil: Profile for Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta
The Medal of Honor: By the Numbers
Since Congress began awarding the Medal of Honor in 1861, over 3,400 soldiers have received the honor. The award has become increasingly rare since the Vietnam era. During the Vietnam War, 248 servicemen were awarded the Medal of Honor; since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began in 2001 and 2003, respectively, only ten service members have received the honor, seven of them posthumously. To learn more about the Medal of Honor and recipients from prior conflicts, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Jim Drury is an intern for the Communications Department at IAVA Headquarters in New York City this summer. He recently completed a Master’s Degree in Modern European History from Providence College.
IAVA has helped thousands of veterans. Here are some of their stories:
On Sunday, March 18th, IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff and…
On August 5th, IAVA Member Veterans joined President Obama at the Navy Yard…