Medal Monday: Honoring Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Battle Company, 2nd Battalion
Division: Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment
Conflict: War in Afghanistan
Date of Action: 10/25/2007
Date of Issue: 11/16/2010
Medal Presented By: President Barack Obama
“It is my privilege to present our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to a soldier as humble as he is heroic: Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta…he’ll tell you that he didn’t do anything special; that he was just doing his job; that any of his brothers in the unit would do the same thing. In fact, he just lived up to what his team leader instructed him to do years before: You do everything you can.” – President Barack Obama
Several days into a patrol mission in the harsh terrain of the most dangerous valley in northeast Afghanistan, the Korengal Valley, Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta and his platoon were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force. While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, moving him to cover and administering medical aid. While conducting aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and shattered the weapon on his back.
Specialist Giunta and his comrades gathered and counterattacked. They threw grenades, using the explosions as cover to run forward, shooting at the muzzle flashes still erupting in the trees. Finally, they reached one of their men. He’d been shot twice in the leg but kept returning fire until his gun jammed.
As another soldier tended his wounds, Specialist Giunta sprinted ahead, at every step returning the relentless enemy fire with his own. He arrived atop the hill alone, with no cover, and encountered the chilling sight of two insurgents carrying the other wounded American soldier away.
Specialist Giunta immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid as his squad neared and provided security. Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness, and decisive leadership despite his extreme circumstances were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy.
Upon his receival of the Medal of Honor, Staff Sergeant Giunta was compelled to give the Medal to the 173rd Brigade as he felt the honor was a unitary effort – not singular – an idea he explains in his book, “Living with Honor: A Memoir.”
Salvatore Giunta is one of the 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients whose combat valor and civic heroics will be enshrined in the National Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, SC. These heroes deserve a home for their legacy to be shared with the next generations.
As the only military museum to recognize all branches of the armed services, it will highlight the fact that the recipients of our nation’s highest military award not only defended our country, they were instrumental in developing, designing, and enriching it.
The museum will be a vault for the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice and patriotism. It will showcase the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Character Development Program including living histories of over 100 recipients. It will also house the Citizens Heroes Program honoring ordinary citizens who have epitomized the concept of “service above self”.
Americans will walk out of that museum with the conviction that they too can be a hero, inspired by the values of courage and sacrifice that the Medal of Honor recipients used to excel in combat and in civilian life. Learn more at mohmuseum.org.