Sgt. Leroy Arthur Petry Receives Medal of Honor

Posted on July 13, 2011



On Tuesday, July 12, President Barack Obama awarded the U.S. military’s highest honor to Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry for saving the lives of two of his comrades in Afghan combat by hurling away a grenade as it exploded.

President Obama attaches the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Leroy Arthur Petry. (Courtesy of NYTimes)

Tuesday marked the second time that an active-duty soldier since Vietnam, was bestowed with the Medal of Honor. The first time was last fall to Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta, also a veteran of Afghanistan. Giunta as well as past medalists attended Petry’s ceremony in the East Room.

Seven other Medals of Honor have been given posthumously to soldiers killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

May 28, 2008 was the day that changed Petry’s life and the lives of two of his comrades forever. It was the day he took his comrades’ lives into greater consideration than his own, making him a true American hero.

In the remote area of eastern Afghanistan, Petry and other Rangers were operating to clear a compound and were attacked by enemy fire while looking for an Al-Qaeda commander who was thought to be hiding among insurgents.

Although Petry was shot in both of his legs, as grenades continued to fly toward him and his comrades, he snatched one up and attempted to throw it back before it set off. Two of his comrades’ lives were saved, but Petry lost his right hand which was filled with fragments of the bomb.

After creating his own tourniquet, Petry continued to fight and lead the operation.

President Barack Obama shakes the prosthetic hand of U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Leroy Arthur Petry of Santa Fe, N.M., who received the Medal of Honor for his valor in Afghanistan in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

At the ceremony, Obama said that in a prior meeting in the Oval Office, Sergeant Petry “gave me the extraordinary privilege of showing me the small plaque that is bolted to his prosthetic arm. On it are the names of the fallen Rangers from the 75th Regiment. They are, quite literally, part of him, just as they will always be part of America.”

Petry has not left the Army since the incident. Instead, he returned to Afghanistan for his eighth combat tour last year, before receiving the Medal of Honor.

“Today we honor a singular act of gallantry,” Obama said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “Yet as we near the 10th anniversary of the attacks that thrust our nation into war, this is also an occasion to pay tribute to a solider, and a generation, that has borne the burden of our security during a hard decade of sacrifice.”

(Featured Image Courtesy of NYTimes.)

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