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An American Hero receives Medal of Honor

November 16, 2010

If you’re looking for a positive and uplifting news story today, you won’t find one much better than the story of Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta who will receive the Medal of Honor today for his actions in battle in October, 2007.

“I know a lot braver people than me. And I know a lot stronger people than me, and I’ve served with a lot of them.” Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Ambushed by Taliban fighters in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, and facing fire from two sides of a mountain ridge so dangerous that it’s been dubbed the “valley of death”, some of Giunta’s fellow officers had fallen with injuries from grenades, machine guns and AK-47 fire. Giunta ran forward – into enemy fire – and helped pull a wounded soldier back to safety. Giunta then noticed another of his fellow soldiers was missing. Running back into the ambush area, Giunta saw his fellow soldier, wounded, being dragged away by the arms and legs by Taliban fighters. Giunta ran after the Taliban fighters, killed one and wounded the other and was able to bring the second wounded soldier back to safety. The wounded soldier, Giunta’s friend, Sergeant Joshua Brennan, didn’t survive the ambush, but Giunta’s heroic rescue made sure that Sergeant Brennan didn’t suffer and die in enemy hands, and allowed him to go home to the United States and to family.

What’s so positive and uplifting about a story of war and death? It’s Salvatore Giunta himself. Interviewed on CBS news, Giunta was asked what kind of soldier he is. “I’m average. I’m mediocre.” he responded. Giunta went on to say that it was just one moment and he believes that anyone else in his position would have done the same thing. It was something, he believed, that needed to be done, so he simply went and did it. The interviewer commented that receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from the president is the greatest military honor a soldier can receive and remarked how that accomplishment is pretty good for a mediocre soldier. Giunta’s humble response: “Think how good the great soldiers are.”

I’m taken by Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta’s selfless act, as well as his humility and modesty. I can’t help but think about, and wonder, what makes an “average” and “mediocre” person perform such extraordinary acts of selflessness and bravery. One day these wars will end and the world won’t have to put “average” and “mediocre” people into situations like the one Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta found himself in, but until that time – and well beyond that time – we can all look up, listen to and learn from Salvatore Giunta.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2010 1:38 pm

    I spent my entire life, until the age of 19, as the child of a career Army man… from what I have seen, most of the men and women in our military feel very much as this soldier. They don’t live each moment feeling noble, they are just doing what needs to be done. Most of them get embarrassed on Veteran’s Day when someone thanks them for their service.
    I think, in part, that is what makes their service so extraordinary. They live each day with more honor, more heroism, more sacrifice than most of us will ever see.
    Great post.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      November 17, 2010 3:06 pm

      Thanks, ~ifer. I pray for the day that we don’t have to have a military any longer, but until that day, I’m thankful for people who have that honor and heroism and are willing to make that sacrifice.


  2. November 16, 2010 6:43 pm

    Wow. It seems like soldiers are always like that…just doing their job. Thanks for checking out my blog. I always check back…it’s been a great process for me. Bye


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      November 17, 2010 3:06 pm

      You’re welcome, Lynn. You have a great blog!


  3. November 16, 2010 10:54 pm

    I saw a news report on this on the evening news. Quite inspiring. Seems like a really nice young man too. Bravo!


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      November 17, 2010 3:10 pm

      I thought it was inspiring too. There was a story on the news today about a 17-year-old kid here in Minnesota who was just arrested in Iowa for murdering two women at convenience stores and he was smiling and laughing as they were leading him in handcuffs into the courtroom. It’s difficult to balance a kid like that with a guy who is willing to give his own life to save others.


  4. November 17, 2010 7:21 am

    He is so humble. Such a wonderful example of our soldiers. IT broke my heart when he said what the award symbolized to him: The loss of his friend.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      November 17, 2010 3:10 pm

      That’s a sad remark, isn’t it? I hope in time he can come to appreciate not only the medal, but himself and what he did to earn it.


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