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 (10 Responses)
  1. 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 |
  2. DC

    GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS, PERIOD

    November 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 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 |
    • lo

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

      November 21, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 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 |