Entries in Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta (2)


Medal of Honor Recipient Sal Giunta To Leave Military

Photo Courtesy - United States Army(WASHINGTON) -- The only living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War is leaving the U.S. Armed Forces in mid-June.

The Army confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for the bravery he displayed in Afghanistan, has decided to the leave the military.

“It does not surprise me that he made this decision,” said ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, who has spoken with Giunta on several occasions. “I think this was a difficult decision for him. I know he always wanted to continue his education. I know he loves the Army and he loves his fellow soldiers, but in many senses I think he probably realized that as a Medal of Honor recipient...that would be taking up a lot of his time in the Army. It would be highly unlikely they would ever send him back into a war zone.”

Raddatz said that Giunta – who, since being awarded the Honor, has become the face of the war in Afghanistan – loves being a soldier and is modest about his accomplishments.

“I think he is uncomfortable with the spotlight in many ways because he doesn't consider himself a hero,” Raddatz said.

Giunta put himself in danger of enemy fire to rescue two fellow soldiers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Obama Awards Medal of Honor to First Living Recipient Since Vietnam War

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Army (WASHINGTON) -- Noting that as a soldier he is as “humble as he is heroic,” President Obama awarded Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, in a celebratory East Room ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

 “Now, I'm going to go off script here for a second and just say, I really like this guy,” Obama said. “When you meet Sal and you meet his family, you are just absolutely convinced that this is what America's all about, and it just makes you proud.”

Tuesday marked the first time in nearly 40 years that a recipient of the honor has been able to come to the White House to accept the recognition in person. The last nine awards since the end of Vietnam War have all been awarded posthumously.

Members of Giunta’s family from Iowa were in the audience, including his wife and his fellow soldiers from the Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

“It was his mother, after all, who apparently taught him as a young boy in small-town Iowa how to remove the screen from his bedroom window in case of fire,” Obama joked. “What she didn't know was that, by teaching Sal how to jump from his bedroom and sneaking off in the dead of night, she was unleashing a future paratrooper who would one day fight in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, 7,000 miles away."

The president described in great detail the night of October 25th, 2007 which led Giunta, then only 22 years old, to receive the honor.

“Staff Sergeant Giunta, repeatedly and without hesitation, you charged forward through extreme enemy fire, embodying the warrior ethos that says, I will never leave a fallen comrade. Your actions disrupted a devastating ambush before it could claim more lives. Your courage prevented the capture of an American soldier and brought that soldier back to his family. You may believe that you don't deserve this honor, but it was your fellow soldiers who recommended you for it.”

After the ceremony, Giunta and his wife came to the stakeout cameras of the White House driveway to speak with reporters. Giunta said he would give the honor back “in a second” if he could have his friends -- the two that died that day -- back.

Many members of the Medal of Honor Society were in the audience, as well as several members of Congress, the Secretary of Defense, Admiral Mike Mullen, Army Secretary John McHugh, and Army General George Casey.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

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