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Yesterday, President Obama spoke with Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta to inform him that he will be awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry at the risk of his life that went above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant Giunta will be the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. The President thanked Sergeant Giunta for his service and extraordinary bravery in battle.
Further information about the date and time of the ceremony will be released at a later date.
ACTION FROM WHICH THE MEDAL OF HONOR WAS EARNED:
Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007.
When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.
Giunta, 24, a Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School graduate who served two tours in Afghanistan, was nominated for the award for his role in preventing a wounded fellow soldier from being dragged away during a fire fight in the Korengal River Valley in northeast Afghanistan.
Giunta’s father, Steve Giunta of Hiawatha, said he and his wife, Rose, are proud of their son but said Sal is “very reserved and quiet” when it comes to the award.
“He would like to not have the spotlight,” Steve Giunta said. “If all of this would just go away I think that would be just fine by him.”
“As he told me, this doesn’t change the event,” the elder Giunta said. “As he puts it, every soldier would have done it.”
His father, Steve Giunta of Hiawatha, said Staff Sgt. Giunta is stationed in Italy.
“We’re very proud of him – proud of all of his unit, not all of whom are still here,” Steve Giunta said.
Giunta, who enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, is now stationed in Italy with the Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He was in his second tour of duty in Afghanistan at the time of the ambush.
Giunta, who was previously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other medals, called his parents after hearing from the president, his father said.