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Thread: Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta, the First Living Medal of Honor since Vietnam War

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    Default Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta, the First Living Medal of Honor since Vietnam War

    Vietnam War Story Page - USATODAY.com



    SSG Sal Giunta, a paratrooper w/ the 173rd Airborne, is likely to be the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. He earned this by charging a group of Taliban who were trying to make off with a wounded comrade in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. His actions broke the Taliban’s attack and allowed him to regain control of SGT Josh Brennan. He also saved the lives of the many other members of his unit who had been caught in a near ambush by the Taliban. Giunta didn’t hesitate one second before advancing on his own to ensure the enemy would never take one of ours, but sadly Josh Brennan was too badly wounded too survive. His cousin PVT Joe Brennan recently graduated airborne school and has joined the same unit proudly carrying on Josh’s memory.

    The 2nd Battalion (Airborne) 503rd Infantry Regiment “The Rock” deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 for 15 months of the most intense combat any US unit has faced in this war. During the time they spent on the border with Pakistan, this one battalion averaged three troops in contact incidents every day. They were right in the path of the Taliban’s major push back into Afghanistan after years of resting, recruiting and retraining in their safe havens in Pakistan. The Rock proudly upheld the tradition of our airborne forces in some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth. SSG Giunta was a member of Battle Company and the exploits of some of his compatriots in that unit are vividly chronicled in Sebastian Junger’s book “War” and the documentary “Restrepo” (in theaters now) he made with Tim Hetherington. The two spent a total of five months with a platoon from Battle Company and the book and film show the tremendous challenges these men faced and overcame.

    Giunta was a Specialist when the action occurred and his squad was hit with a well-planned ambush at extremely close range. He was the trail team leader and Josh Brennan was the lead. When the fighting started Brennan was severely wounded, their squad leader was knocked to the ground, their medic was killed and several others were wounded. Giunta immediately began maneuvering toward the enemy throwing grenades and eventually charging them when he saw two of them hauling Josh away. He emptied a magazine killing one and wounding the other and grabbed Brennan telling Josh to stay with him so that he would get a chance to tell heroic stories. They did get Brennan on a medevac chopper, but unfortunately his wounds were too severe and he didn’t survive. But Giunta’s actions stopped the Taliban from taking him and by running headlong at the enemy he disrupted the ambush. SSG Giunta’s story can be read in Junger’s book “War” starting on page 115.

    It has been far too long since we have awarded the Medal of Honor to someone who survived, and SSG Giunta is a wonderful addition to the ranks of those who have earned our country’s highest honor. There are a number of others under consideration for this decoration and hopefully this is a sign that more of these brave warriors will be recognized. We have heard this was approved by the White House and they are only waiting to set a date for the ceremony.

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    Salute!

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Man! He is all kinds of brave!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Default First Medal of Honor for a living Afghan war vet

    It is official:

    First Medal of Honor for a living Afghan war vet - Yahoo! News



    DES MOINES, Iowa – A 25-year-old soldier from Iowa who exposed himself to enemy gunfire to try to save two fellow soldiers will become the first living service member from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

    President Barack Obama phoned Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, on Thursday at the base in Italy where he's stationed to tell him he'd be receiving the nation's highest military honor, Giunta's father told The Associated Press. He will become the eighth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The seven previous medals were awarded posthumously.

    "It's bittersweet for us," said Steven Giunta, of Hiawatha. "We're very proud of Sal. We can't mention that enough, but in this event, two other soldiers were killed and that weighs heavy on us. You get very happy and very proud and then you start dealing with the loss as well. You can't have one without the other."

    Giunta was serving as a rifle team leader with Company B 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment when an insurgent ambush split his squad into two groups on Oct. 25, 2007, in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, the White House said in a news release.

    Giunta went above and beyond the call of duty when he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a fellow soldier back to cover. He engaged the enemy again when he saw two insurgents carrying away a wounded soldier, 22-year-old Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan, of McFarland, Wis. Giunta killed one insurgent and wounded the other before tending to Brennan, who died the next day.

    "His courage and 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 enemy hands," the White House said.

    Giunta, who enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, is now stationed in Italy with the Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He was in his second tour of duty in Afghanistan at the time of the ambush.

    Giunta, who was previously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other medals, called his parents after hearing from the president, his father said.

    "He was very honored to talk to the president but he's very reserved about it," Steven Giunta said. "It's not something he's comfortable with, the event or the Medal of Honor."

    Steven Giunta said his son is humbled because he believes he was just doing what he was supposed to be doing.

    "He mentions every other soldier would have done the same thing. It kind of rocks his world that he's being awarded the Medal of Honor for something each and every one of them would have done. He's very aware of that."

    "What a privilege and honor it is and what the men have done over the years to receive it, the feat, the above and beyond portion of it, it's amazing to me," Steven Giunta said.

    Giunta will be awarded his medal at a White House ceremony at a date yet to be determined.

    The President will present the Medal of Honor posthumously to Staff Sgt. Robert Miller in a White House ceremony on Oct. 6.

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