Last fall, Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. He will soon have company, because today the White House announced that Sergeant 1st Class Leroy Petry will receive the Medal of Honor from the President in a ceremony on July 12.
Like Giunta, Petry is a modest man, who told the Army News Service “it’s very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that.” Once again, a grateful nation must respectfully overrule the humility of a hero.
Petry is an Army Ranger, who found himself assigned to “a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target” in May of 2008. With a fellow Ranger, he was clearing the outer courtyard of the target compound when he ran into an enemy ambush.
The initial burst of enemy fire put a bullet through both of Petry’s legs, and wounded his fellow Ranger, Private 1st Class Lucas Robinson, in the side. They found cover in a chicken coop and reported the encounter, which brought a third Ranger, team leader Sergeant Daniel Higgins, to their assistance.
An enemy grenade wounded Higgins and knocked the other two men to the ground. When a second grenade landed right on top of them, Petry – defying the significant wounds he had already received – grabbed the weapon and threw it back at the enemy. His action saved the lives of all three Rangers… at the cost of Petry’s right hand, which was blown off when the grenade detonated.
He put a tourniquet on himself and continued to make radio reports through the ensuing firefight, in which another Ranger was mortally wounded.
Sgt. Petry was deployed eight times during the War on Terror, serving two tours in Iraq and six in Afghanistan. He is now serving as “a liaison officer for the United States Special Operatiosn Command Care Coalition-Northwest Region,” and “provides oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured service members, and their families,” according to the Army News Service.
It’s good to see more of the heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan receiving the honors they deserve. We need to hear more of their stories. We are not as astonished as we should be.