The second living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for the current wars being waged was honored yesterday at the White House.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
For the military community — it is hard to explain how we feel and how we hope the rest of the country feels about the holders of the Congressional Medal of Honor. This is the ultimate honor awarded to a military servicemember. Medal of Honor recipients (they are not referred to as “winning” this medal) are the bravest of the brave. The Medal of Honor is awarded to those men (and one woman at Bull Run) who put their fellow servicemember’s lives before their own; they are the men who perform acts of heroism that are beyond the imagination of most of us.
As President Obama said during the award ceremony:
Every human impulse would tell someone to turn away. Every soldier is trained to seek cover. That’s what Sergeant Leroy Petry could have done. Instead, this wounded Ranger, this 28-year-old man with his whole life ahead of him, this husband and father of four, did something extraordinary. He lunged forward, toward the live grenade. He picked it up. He cocked his arm to throw it back.
What compels such courage? What leads a person to risk everything so that others might live? For answers, we don’t need to look far. The roots of Leroy’s valor are all around us.
The latest recipient, SFC Leroy Petry was awarded the Medal for saving the lives of the Rangers he was serving with. During an operation in Paktya Province in 2008, he was wounded in both legs as was another Ranger. He radioed in the situation. A grenade exploded, wounding two other Rangers, and when another grenade landed in the courtyard, SFC Petry picked it up to throw it away from the men. As he did so, the grenade blew his right hand off and inflicted a lot of damage to the rest of his body. Here’s his version of his story, as told to NBC. He tied a tourniquet around his own arm, radioed to coordinate support, and told the medics what they should do for his wounds when they arrived.
After being treated at Brooke Army Medical Center and learning how to use his new prosthetic, with the support of his wife Ashley and 4 children (one of whom calls his stump Nubby) SFC Petry put that prosthetic hand into the air and re-enlisted. On that prosthesis — is a plaque with all the names of the 2/75 Rangers who have died.
He went back to Afghanistan on his eighth deployment last year.
This is the type of person to whom the country awards The Congressional Medal of Honor — a man who thought of others more than himself; a man who continues to serve his country; a man who has said that he wants to help others.
In his words, “If I can’t go to the fight, I can help the men who are wounded, injured or ill.”
He is currently working at the liaison office for the US Special Operations Command Care Coalition,- Northwest Region. This is where he helps the wounded and their families He shows them life can go on and helps them deal with their wounds and the alteration of their lives. SFC Petry continues to show us his determination, his courage and his dedication to others, those attributes that make him the man that was awarded this highest medal our country can bestow.
Army photo by Spc. David M. Sharp
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