Newest Medal of Honor recipient to be inducted into Hall of Heroes
November 17th, 2010
10:47 AM ET

Newest Medal of Honor recipient to be inducted into Hall of Heroes

One day after the president draped the nation's highest medal of valor around his neck, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will receive another honor when he is inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the 25-year-old from Iowa became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the war in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama described Giunta as the kind of soldier who leaves you "just absolutely convinced this is what America's all about," Obama said at the White House award ceremony. "It just makes you proud."

The president noted that Giunta is the only Medal of Honor winner who has served since the Vietnam era to have survived the actions that earned him the commendation.

Three previous recipients from the war in Afghanistan, four from the Iraq war and two from the Somalia campaign in 1993 all died in action, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.

Giunta was a specialist serving with the Airborne 503rd Infantry Regiment on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when his unit was attacked on the night of October 25, 2007.

According to Defense Department documents, Giunta and his fellow soldiers were walking back to base along the top of a mountain ridge when the enemy attacked from their front and their left. Taliban fighters barraged the Americans with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and Soviet-era large machine guns.

Giunta saw several of his fellow soldiers go down. He ran forward, throwing grenades and returning enemy fire, to help one soldier who had been shot but was still fighting, the documents say. Then he noticed one of the wounded soldiers was missing.

Searching for his wounded friend Sgt. Josh Brennan, Giunta ran over a hill where, moments before, Taliban fighters had been shooting at him. He was alone, out of sight of his fellow soldiers, in an area that the Taliban had controlled just moments before.

Giunta saw two Taliban fighters dragging Brennan away. He ran after them, killing one and wounding the other, who ran off.

Giunta instantly started providing first aid to Brennan, who had been shot at least six times, the documents state. Eventually a medic arrived and a helicopter was called in to take Brennan to a hospital, but he later died of his wounds.

Giunta's action, however, meant that Brennan was not at the mercy of the Taliban, and his parents would be able to give him a proper burial instead of wondering what became of him.

Giunta's quick response to the Taliban attack also helped his unit repulse the enemy fighters before they could cause more casualties, the Defense Department documents note.

Giunta was shot twice, with one round hitting his body armor and the second destroying a weapon slung over his back. He was not seriously hurt.

His actions "embodied the warrior ethos that says I will never leave a comrade," Obama said. "This medal is a testament to his uncommon valor, but also the parents and community that raised him."

According to the White House, the Medal of Honor is awarded to "a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty ... The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life."

Upon receiving the Medal of Honor, Giunta said he was appreciative but that the moment was "bittersweet."

"I lost two dear friends of mine, Spc. Hugo Mendoza and Sgt. Joshua Brennan. And although this is so positive, I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now."

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Filed under: Medal of Honor
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. ANONYMOUS (NOT)

    sua sponte man. great job.

    February 7, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. 1doug1

    believe this young man did a great job...I do believe that he should have been awarded a silver star or distinguished service cross(and thats probably a reach)...not the medal of honor...

    December 16, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Sgt A

      Your dumb something like this dose deserve the medal of honor anyone that puts their life on the line to safe other people and is the only one that was shot but can still fight and was giving people aid deserve to be awarded that... People like you don't know anything people that are not in the military or never been in the military don't know how it really is... Maybe you should get off your ass and join and see if you would do something like that!!!!!!! Then you might have a different point of few!!!!

      April 3, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. dude from cali

    But also grieve for this man has lost two friends and grieve for all the soldiers and all the families who have lost loved ones and friends to this war.

    November 22, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dude from cali

    All of you are ridiculous! Do not arguing over something ridiculous no one here knows about except for the soldiers on the front lines, instead celebrate the courage and the valor this young man has shown while protecting his friends, our military, and our country.

    November 22, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LarryKegel(US Army)

    I am so proud that We have such brave Military People fighting Our Wars for us!!! It just proves that We are trained to defend Our Countries with Our Brothers know matter where We fight...

    November 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Norma

    From a mother who has 2 soldiers in the army, on who is currently in Afghanistan.I am very proud of each and every one of them. To those those who would risk their life for a commrade even if it is to bring back to the families I say may god bless them. Bless all of our troops.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • BANGASH

      I solute every mother and understand your feelings but if you knew that your son has been deceived in the name of motherland and is being used by in fact the real enemies of USA in killing of poor and innocent human beings in this part of the world. You and the whole world has now realized that in the name of the weapons of mass destructions attack on Iraq American nation was cheated and same in Afghanistan for which Americans punished Bush in election. So US occupation of Afghanistan is wrong decision of few warmongers not whole nation therefore call back your son as being a mother you will never like to see your son killing innocent sons and daughters of Afghans and Pakistanis in this inhuman war. Kindly visit web johnperkins.org and think over what a true son of America Mr JOHN PERKINS has confessed and testify what I wished to convey to you the brave mother.

      November 22, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe

        Good post,BANGASH. Thank you.

        November 22, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jason Humphreys

    What about Monica Brown of the 82nd Airborne? She had done exactly the same if not more for her fellow soldiers and was only given the Silver Star. He chased down the taliban yet she fought off many many more and even exposed herself to death by trying to recover a soldier in an exploding humvee... I think they need to go back and revisit that so that she can recieve this same HONOR

    November 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sgt A

      For your statement all she did was her job! She gave aid to solider's that needed it just like midics are spouse to do. She dis not put her life on the line and she did not fight off any Taliban! Know tour facts before you try to argue it.... She got the right award for what she did!!!

      April 3, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dindy.....

    It is really funny these Barbarians are talking about 360 truth.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dindy.....

    November 18 at 9 :16 am is not my post

    November 19, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dindy.....

    He is a True Hero. Fought in a strange land where he cant even imagine of fighting after Born in such a developed country like USA. He is one great and Brave soldier and made his country and parents and Lowa really proud. Bless you !!

    November 18, 2010 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • dindy Sri lanka

      Will you knock off that right-wing drivel? At least post it under somebody else's name!!!

      November 18, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. DC

    GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS, PERIOD

    November 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary Johndro

      YABBA-DABBA-DOO-DOO-DOO!!!

      November 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....

      Just like you.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. BANGASH

    Former Afghan war lords, once US heroes in US war against USSR, when compare Russian soldiers with Americans in combat operations in Afghan terrains they consider Russians more professional and quite brave in face to face fighting then Americans. This proved true today when see this guy receiving medal of honor from President of USA, for his bravery in safe evacuation of his counterpart during Taliban attack on US forces in eastern Afghanistan instead of fighting in straight fight and eliminate enemy or make him flee the scene. Here in this case, a soldier of the world’s greatest military power, in fight against a bare footed Talib, gets Medal of Honor for defense against offensive Taliban. If it is true and America has such brave sons and daughters then why they are loosing these assets in such meaningless and costly wars which they can never win at least in this region.

    November 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daryle

      And what the hell have you done to say you have faced death head on.Hell if your that brave you should teach others instead of talking about something you seem to have no clue about!

      November 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • pbsd2010

      Semper Fi to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.

      @ BANGASH I have no idea where you are getting this information; however, it is obviously not from personal experience. Your statement is ridiculous. You would have to fight side by side in firefights with both the Russians and Americans in order to make this correlation and even then, it would not be accurate. Your statement demonstrates your ignorance.

      November 18, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • BANGASH

        These are eyewitness accounts from the war front which you can verify from any living soldier having gone through physical encounter with Taliban in Afghanistan. They will also tell you what Taliban had in their hands in fighting against world’s technologically most advanced and well equipped soldiers. So this is reality that US soldier’s superiority is only their huge resources and latest weaponry and whenever they have been challenged in street fight Americans have lost to them. So this is general impression of public regarding US soldiers on the ground however Russians were different and had never taken cover of their advanced weaponry in straight fight and were bravely facing offensively their opponents with similar weapons. SO difference is there.

        November 21, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • lo

      If have to tell you, you would understand. My God bless you

      November 21, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. robert kimber

    SEMPER FI TO THIS SOLDIER HE DID WHAT HE WAS TRAINED TO DO AND DID NOT ALLOW THE ENEMY TO GET ONE OF OUR GUYS AND HE MADE OUR COUNTRY PROUD AND THE STATE OF IOWA PROUD AT THE SAME TIME I HOPE THAT THIS GOES TO SHOW THAT OUR TROOPS ARE DOING THEIR JOBS WITH MORE PRIDE NOW

    November 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ernie Beatty

      SIEH HEIL!

      November 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        I strongly suggest that you first learn how to spell Beatty,before you make a comment here. It's SIEG HEIL,not SIEH HEIL!!! And it wouldn't hurt to learn a little German,either.

        November 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |