President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor Tuesday to the first active-duty servicemember in nearly 40 years.
Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta was described as a humble, low-key Soldier –- one that shies away from the limelight. But his actions on Oct. 25, 2007, were anything but low-key when he refused to let enemy fighters carry off a fellow wounded Soldier in Afghanistan.
Giunta, then a specialist, individually pursued two insurgents who had captured a badly wounded Sgt. Joshua Brennan during a deadly firefight. Giunta killed one insurgent and injured the other, and immediately began to administer first aid to Brennan, all while under heavy enemy fire.
It was this act of rare bravery that saved lives and warranted receipt of the Medal, Obama explained.
ZUI also this article:
Top DoD and Army officials inducted Staff Sgt. Salvatore "Sal" Giunta of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes Wednesday, making him the first active-duty servicemember added to the hallowed chamber in a generation.
Giunta's name was enshrined on a plaque that will hang in the Pentagon hallway commemorating Medal of Honor recipients, and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates presented Giunta with a Medal of Honor flag, while Secretary of the Army John McHugh gave him a framed photo and citation during the ceremony.
"While we can never fail or forget to honor the fallen, we also need living heroes - men and women who overcame every fear and every obstacle - to inspire, to teach, and to ennoble us by what they have done," Gates said. "Heroes like Sal Giunta."
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., chief of staff of the Army, noted that of the 389 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have received the Medal of Honor since World War II, including 15 other paratroopers from the 173rd, only one third have received it in person.
"This is an incredible occasion," McHugh told the standing-room-only crowd that included Giunta's battle buddies from the 173rd and past Medal of Honor recipien
A slideshow of photos from the award presentation can be found here, and one from the induction ceremony is here.
SALVATORE AUGUSTINE GIUNTA
Staff Sergeant (then Specialist), US Army; Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment
Born: 21 January 1985, Hiawatha, Iowa
Citation: Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, in action, with an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2007.
While conducting a patrol as team leader, with Company B, 2d Battalion Airborne, 503d Infantry Regiment, Specialist Giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force.
While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen, and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover and administered medical aid.
While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Special Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position.
Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward, and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.
Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy.
Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2d Battalion Airborne, 503d Infantry Regiment and the United States Army.