President Obama awarded the nation’s highest military honor to Sergeant Leroy Arthur Petry yesterday after describing how the soldier took enemy fire in Afghanistan but still grabbed a live enemy grenade to save his comrades. “This is the stuff of which heroes are made,’’ the president declared.
It was just the second time that a living, active-duty service member from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has received a Medal of Honor. Petry, who lost his hand in the battle and wears a prosthesis, looked on from a stage in the East Room with his wife and children in the audience as the president described his heroics.
It unfolded on May 26, 2008, in the remote east of Afghanistan, as Petry and other Rangers flew in a helicopter toward an insurgent compound, the president said. As soon as they landed they came under automatic weapon fire, and Petry was hit in his legs. He fell, but as grenades came flying toward him and his comrades he picked one up and tried to hurl it back before it exploded.
Petry’s right hand was blown off but two of his fellow soldiers were saved.
Petry kept going, issuing orders to help his unit fight and win.
It was “something extraordinary,’’ Obama said.
Even after being severely injured, Petry reenlisted. He even returned to Afghanistan for an eighth deployment last year, the president said, before hanging the Medal of Honor around Petry’s neck.
Petry, a Santa Fe, N.M., native who now serves with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., sought to turn attention away from himself after the ceremony and toward other Rangers, service members, and military families.
“To be singled out is very humbling. I consider every one of our men and women in uniform serving here, abroad, to be our heroes,’’ Petry said.
Leave a Reply