President Obama applauds after awarding Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on July 12. Petry is the ninth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press)
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President Obama on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Honor to an Army Ranger who lost his right hand while throwing away a live grenade that would have killed him and two "Ranger brothers."
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry exhibited "a singular act of gallantry" on May 26, 2008, in Afghanistan, Obama said during an East Room ceremony.
"What leads a person to risk everything so that others may live?" Obama asked while describing the incident in which Petry "lunged forward" to grab the grenade "just as it exploded."
Afterward, an emotional Petry thanked his comrades and said, "to be singled out is very humbling."
Obama quoted a fellow soldier who said Petry proves that "true heroes still exist, and they're closer than you think."
With his missing hand and wounds in his legs that sometimes make it hard to stand, Petry could have retired from the military with honors, Obama pointed out — but "he pushes on."
"He chose to re-enlist," Obama said. "This past year, he returned to Afghanistan — his eighth deployment."
As he has at previous Medal of Honor ceremonies, Obama paid tribute to all the troops who have fought for freedom, both in history and today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The president also lauded the role of military families, saying "our heroes are all around us."
Petry is the second living, active duty service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. The other is http://militarytimes.com/projects/medal-of-honor-ceremony-sal-giunta/">Army Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, who received the award for his actions in Afghanistan in October 2007.