WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2010 — Today I watched a “60 Minutes” online interview with Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and his wife, Jennifer, and was hard-pressed to hold back my tears.
Rather than relish the spotlight, Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War, shifted the focus onto his wife.
“She helps make me who I am,” Giunta told correspondent Lara Logan with his wife seated next to him. “Without her being there by my side and supporting me every day, I don’t know where I’d be. I’d be a different person.”
President Barack Obama awarded the nation’s highest medal of valor to Giunta today for his heroic actions in Afghanistan the night of Oct, 25, 2007. My colleague, Karen Parrish, wrote about the ceremony and the actions that led to it in her American Forces Press Service article, “President Awards Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sergeant.”
During the interview, Giunta recalled his first night home. His wife already had set up the apartment with their things, and it instantly felt like home, he said.
“To be able to sit down on the couch and just …,” he took a deep breath. “That was a safe feeling and a comfortable feeling that I hadn’t felt in a long time.”
He then turned to Jennifer while she recalled the day her husband became a hero.
Her husband had called her that day, she said. He acted nonchalant as he asked her how she was doing. She stopped him after a few minutes and told him she knew what had happened. She had received a call earlier.
“He said, ‘I’m OK, don’t worry about me,’ ” Jennifer said, tightly gripping his hand. She knew he was OK physically, but wanted to make sure he was well otherwise. He didn’t want to talk about it, and just insisted he was fine, she said.
Jennifer’s pride in her husband was evident as she described what his actions said about him as a person.
“It says about him, how much he will give; how unselfish he is,” she said, fighting back tears.
Then she turned to her husband and smiled. He smiled back.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)