An Army Ranger who lost his right hand while tossing an enemy grenade away from fellow soldiers in Afghanistan was awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday.
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry became the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Iraq and Afghan wars, according to the U.S. military.
"Leroy Petry showed that true heroes still exist, and they're closer than you think," said President Barack Obama, who presented the award to Petry.
"It's very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that," Petry said, according to an Army News Service report.
Petry was awarded the medal for his actions on May 26, 2008, in Paktia, Afghanistan.
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."
Medals of Honor have been rare since the end of the Vietnam war. And not one of the recipients from the recent deployments have been alive to have the iconic blue ribbon with the gold star draped around his neck. Until now. On Tuesday, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be awarded the nation's highest medal for valor for his actions in Afghanistan.
Editor's note: President Obama will present Sal Giunta with the Medal of Honor award on Tuesday. Watch live on CNN TV and online.
COMBAT OUTPOST DURANI, Afghanistan — Their memories of the firefight are still searing, three years after it took place.
"The whole time frame lasted, I don't know, maybe two minutes, three minutes. Five or six lifetimes," U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta told CNN. "You can turn and see the muzzle flashes and the bullets coming out of the guns and it's not just one of them, not just 10 of them, it's more than that."
It was an October night in the part of eastern Afghanistan called the Korengal Valley, not far from the Pakistani border. Soldiers describe it as unlike other parts of Afghanistan where dust and bare rocks are everywhere. The Korengal is timber country, green interlaced with boulders. A treacherous terrain for U.S. paratroopers.
"Everything is hard," Sal Giunta told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. "The rocks are hard. The people are hard. The vegetation is hard. Everything is sharp." FULL POST
The U.S. Marine Corps' top leader has recommended a Marine from Kentucky for the Medal of Honor, CNN has learned.
Dakota Meyer is only 22 years old, but he's already seen enough for any person's lifetime. He was in Afghanistan's Kunar Province in September 2009 when he repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops.
"I was a failure," Meyer told CNN. "My guys died. That was my whole team."
The Marines don't see it that way. CNN has learned from a Defense official with knowledge of the award process that just before he retired, former U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway recommended Meyer for the nation's highest award for bravery. FULL POST