Obama to Award Medal of Honor to Afghan War Vet

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2010 — The Medal of Hon­or will be award­ed for the first time to a liv­ing vet­er­an of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, White House offi­cials announced today in a writ­ten state­ment.

Army Staff Sgt. Sal­va­tore Giun­ta received a phone call from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma yes­ter­day, thank­ing him for his ser­vice. Oba­ma informed the infantry­man that he would receive the nation’s high­est award for his ser­vice and extra­or­di­nary brav­ery in bat­tle, the state­ment said.

The event occurred Oct. 25, 2007, in east­ern Afghanistan’s Koren­gal Val­ley. Giun­ta was a spe­cial­ist at the time and rifle team leader. He served in Com­pa­ny B, 2nd Bat­tal­ion, 503rd Air­borne Infantry Reg­i­ment, 173rd Air­borne Brigade Com­bat Team, based out of Vicen­za, Italy.

Giun­ta over­came being sep­a­rat­ed from his unit, evad­ed poten­tial ene­my cap­tors and risked his life to res­cue two fel­low sol­diers. His unit was divid­ed dur­ing the gun bat­tle. One fel­low sol­dier was exposed to ene­my fire when Giun­ta left his cov­er to pull the sol­dier to safe­ty.

The ene­my con­tin­ued to engage Giun­ta and the sol­dier as they worked to link up with their squad. Dur­ing the move­ment, Giun­ta noticed two insur­gents car­ry­ing the sec­ond sol­dier, try­ing to take him cap­tive.

Giun­ta imme­di­ate­ly engaged the com­bat­ants, killing one and wound­ing anoth­er. He pro­vid­ed med­ical aid to the sol­dier while oth­ers pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty. The sol­dier even­tu­al­ly died of his wounds, but Giunta’s actions pre­vent­ed him from stay­ing in ene­my hands.

The White House state­ment did not say when Giun­ta will receive his medal.

Giun­ta, 25, is a native of Iowa, and enlist­ed in the Army in Novem­ber 2003. He deployed twice to Afghanistan, and cur­rent­ly is sta­tioned in Vicen­za. He will become the eighth Medal of Hon­or recip­i­ent for actions in oper­a­tions Iraqi Free­dom and Endur­ing Free­dom.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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