America

First Living Medal Of Honor Recipient In A Generation

Salvatore Giunta

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.  Richard Bumgardner/Defense Department hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Bumgardner/Defense Department

Update at 2:40 p.m. EST:

President Obama awarded Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta the Medal of Honor in the East Room at the White House this afternoon. The president said Giunta is "as humble as he is heroic," and called the ceremony a "joyous occasion." Also in attendance was the father of Sgt. Joshua Brennan, whom Giunta risked his life to keep him from being carried off by the Taliban. Brennan eventually died of his wounds, but Mike Brennan says the family is grateful for Giunta's heroism, as it allowed them to bury their son.

You can see a 60 Minutes interview with Giunta, as well, truly a remarkable man.

Original Post:

For the first time since the Vietnam war, the Medal of Honor will be awarded to someone who is still alive. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be honored today in a ceremony at the White House.

He was stationed in Korengal Valley in 2007, when he and his fellow soldiers were ambushed. Here's how he described it to Vanity Fair.

There were more bullets in the air than stars in the sky. A wall of bullets at every one at the same time with one crack and then a million other cracks afterwards. They’re above you, in front of you, behind you, below you. They’re hitting in the dirt early. They’re going over your head. Just all over the place. They were close — as close as I’ve ever seen.

A bullet hit his protective vest. He pulled a fellow soldier who had been hit back to safety. He started throwing grenades, moving forward, reaching a second soldier who had been wounded and whose weapon had jammed. He kept going looking for one more man, Sgt. Joshua Brennan. He couldn't figure out why he was so far ahead. Then he saw two Taliban dragging a wounded Brennan away. From the White House readout:

He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security.  His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.

Just so you remember there aren't too many happy endings in war, Joshua Brennan died of his wounds. Giunta will be awarded the medal at 2 p.m. EST by President Obama.

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