Thursday, June 2, 2011

Army Ranger to be awarded the Medal of Honor

Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry is to be the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan when he receives the award in July.

SFC Petry, then a Staff Sergeant, was serving with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Rangers in Afghanistan on 26 May 2008, when he was part of a party sweeping through a compound in a raid to capture a high-value target.  He & one other soldier, PFC Lucas Robinson, entered a courtyard to find & confront at least three Taliban fighters they found there.  Petry was shot through both legs & Robinson shot in a side plate, but both remained behind the shelter of a chicken coop in order to continue to engage the enemy.  They were shortly reinforced by three more Rangers, SSG Roberts, SGT Higgins, & SPC Gathercole.

An enemy grenade was thrown into the defensive position & wounded both Higgins & Robinson.  Shortly thereafter, another grenade was thrown at them & landed within the group.  Petry moved over, picked up the live grenade & threw it back at the enemy, but it exploded as he released it, amputating his right hand.  He assessed his wound & applied a tourniquet, then reported that he was still in contact with the enemy, wounded again, & still engaging.  The firefight continued until the enemy were killed or suppressed, but not before Gathercole was fatally wounded.

SGT Higgins later wrote that “if not for Staff Sergeant Petry’s actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed.”

SFC Petry currently serves with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 75th Rangers at Fort Benning to “provide oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured servicemembers and their families.”

The only other living Medal of Honor recipient is SSG Salvatore Giunta, also for action in Afghanistan, in the Korengal Valley while assigned to the 173rd Airborne.  His story is among others detailed in the excellent book War by Sebastian Junger, & associated with the documentary Restrepo.

Those who have received the award posthumously are:

Iraq –
Specialist Ross McGinnis, US Army
Sergeant First Class Paul Smith, US Army
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, US Navy
Corporal Jason Dunham, US Marine Corps

Afghanistan –
Staff Sergeant Robert Miller, US Army
Sergeant First Class Jared Monti, US Army
Lieutenant Michael Murphy, US Navy

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