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Army Ranger receives Medal of Honor

Jul. 12, 2011 - 03:17PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 12, 2011 - 03:17PM  |  
President Obama Awards Sgt. 1st Class Petry the Me...
President Obama Awards Sgt. 1st Class Petry the Me...: President Barack Obama awards Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor.
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Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at a White House ceremony on July 12. (J.Lee / Staff)
Sergeant 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry is the ninth service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (J.Lee / Staff)


Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry is the ninth service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for the wars is former Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.
The first seven were awarded posthumously.
Spc. Ross McGinnis, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were honored posthumously for their actions in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti and Navy Lt. Michael Murphy were honored posthumously for their actions in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry received the Medal of Honor on Tuesday from President Obama, who said "This could not be happening to a nicer guy or a more inspiring family."

Petry, 31, is the second living soldier on active duty to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This is a historic occasion," Obama said. "This is only the second time … since Vietnam that a recipient of the Medal of Honor in an ongoing conflict has been able to accept this medal in person."

Petry, his wife Ashley, and family members and fellow soldiers gathered in the East Room of the White House for the ceremony.

Army leaders and Vice President Biden also attended the ceremony in the East Room, which was packed with family, friends, members of the 75th Ranger Regiment and former Medal of Honor recipients. Among them was former Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, the first living recipient of the medal from the current wars, wearing a dark suit and a goatee. He was awarded the medal last year and has since left the Army.

Petry has had eight deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, with a total of 28 months deployed.

Petry and fellow Rangers from 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment were conducting a daytime raid to capture an enemy target in Paktya, Afghanistan, on May 26, 2008.

He and Master Sgt. Steven Walter, first sergeant for 2nd Battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, were to clear another target building while an assault force cleared the primary target. One of the assault squads needed help clearing their building, so Petry diverted to join them.

Petry and Pfc. Lucas Robinson moved to clear the outer courtyard. The enemy positioned outside fired on Petry and Robinson as they crossed an open area. Petry was shot in both legs and Robinson was hit in his side armor plate. They took cover while Sgt. Daniel Higgins came into the courtyard to help them.

An enemy grenade landed a few meters away from them, and the blast wounded Higgins and Robinson. Two more Rangers, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole came to their aid.

Another enemy grenade landed near the wounded men. Petry grabbed the grenade and threw it away from the other soldiers. As the grenade detonated, Petry's hand was lost. He put a tourniquet on his own arm and called on the radio to report what happened.

Roberts, Higgins and Robinson returned fire, killing the enemy. Gathercole was killed during the fighting.

Petry was medevaced and taken to a hospital in Germany, then returned to the U.S. for treatment. He now has a prosthetic hand, and still is trying to recover from the wounds to his legs.

Last year, he re-enlisted indefinitely in the Army rather than retire.

Petry remains a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and is attached to Special Operations Command, serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as a liaison for the SOCOM Care Coalition. He works with Rangers who have been wounded in the warzone.

A native of Santa Fe, N.M. Petry joined the Army in September 1999.

His previous awards include two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, three Army Good Conduct Medals, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and others.

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest award for valor.

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