For only the second time in America’s war in Afghanistan, Congress has awarded the Medal of Honor — the United States’ highest military decoration — to a living, active-duty soldier.
He is Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, 31, of Santa Fe, N.M., and he exemplifies the finest ideals of courage, service to country and self-sacrifice.
During a May 2008 fight with terrorist enemies in eastern Afghanistan, Petry, an Army Ranger, was shot in both legs. And yet when he saw an enemy grenade land among some wounded fellow Rangers, he still had the bravery and presence of mind to grab it and attempt to throw it away. That decision cost him one hand when the grenade exploded.
But even as he suffered tremendous physical pain, Petry was not finished. He continued to shout out orders to his unit, which had arrived to get the injured Rangers to safety. His unit managed to complete that mission, saving the wounded soldiers’ lives.
In the end, one American soldier died in the fight, but the whole enemy unit was killed.
Petry is to be presented the Medal of Honor on July 12 by President Barack Obama.
He joins Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, to whom the president previously presented the Medal of Honor, as living recipients of the honor for their service in Afghanistan. Three Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously for service in the war in Afghanistan, and four have been awarded posthumously for service in the war in Iraq.
Most commendably, Petry, a husband and father of four, has elected to continue his service in the Army, although he is eligible for a medical discharge. He is stationed at Fort Benning, Ga.
We gratefully salute Petry for his courageous service to his country.