News / USA

First Living US Medal of Honor Recipient in a Generation Speaks About Award

Multimedia

Michael Bowman

The first living recipient of the U.S. Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War will be decorated for having performed a perilous and heroic act - saving a wounded fellow-soldier during an intense firefight in Afghanistan. But Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta says his courage on the battlefield is no different from the actions displayed by U.S. troops on a daily basis.  Sergeant Giunta fielded reporters' questions via satellite from the U.S. Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy.

Several Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously to service members for their contributions to the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Sergeant Giunta will receive his medal - the nation's highest military award - in person and very much alive.

In October 2007, Giunta's squad was ambushed by Afghan insurgents near the border with Pakistan.  Several of his comrades were wounded, including his best friend, Josh Brennan.

Giunta recalled the events in an interview with ABC News.

"I think about it multiple times a day," said Sergeant Giunta. "I think about it every day.  To tell the story about that day hurts me."

Braving intense enemy fire, Giunta rushed after two insurgents who were dragging Brennan away.  A rifle team leader, he killed one insurgent and caused the other to flee.  He pulled Brennan to a safer area and comforted his friend while awaiting medical attention.

Josh Brennan later succumbed to his wounds.  But Giunta's heroism saved Brennan from dying in enemy hands.

"I will always think of him [Brennan] the way he was, as someone who gave everything for his country," said Giunta.

Last week, Giunta received a telephone call from President Barack Obama, who thanked him for his service.

Addressing the news media on Wednesday, Giunta described the Medal of Honor and the recognition he is receiving as bittersweet.

"It is emotional and it is great," he said. "All of this is great.  But it does bring back a lot of memories of all the people that I would love to share this moment with.  And I am not going to have that opportunity because they are no longer with us."

Giunta described himself as an "average" soldier.

"By no means did I do anything that anyone else would not have done in that situation," said Sergeant Giunta.

But another survivor of the firefight, Army Sergeant Brett Perry, told ABC News that Giunta's heroism is real.

"He will say he was just doing his job," said Sergeant Perry. "But the reality is there are very few people in the world who would do what he did."

The Medal of Honor is awarded for acts of gallantry at the risk of one's life that go above and beyond the call of duty.   

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs