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Medal of Honor Recipient Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor awarded by the United States. In this lesson we will review the life and service of Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, who was awarded this medal in 2010.

The Medal of Honor

''The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of honor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who while a member of the Army, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.'' This is the wording of the United States law that describes the Medal of Honor, the highest military award bestowed by the United States. It requires an act of incredible selflessness and bravery to earn a Medal of Honor. In 2010 Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta became the first living person to be awarded the highest of military honors since the Vietnam War. Why? He displayed exceptional gallantry and intrepidity on the battlefield.

The Army version of the Medal of Honor
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Salvatore Giunta

Salvatore Giunta was born in Clinton, Iowa in 1985. He grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and enlisted in the US Army in 2003. He would go on to serve in two combat deployments in Afghanistan, starting in 2005. By the time he left the Army in 2011, he had achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and received a variety of awards for his service, ranging from the Bronze Star and Purple Heart all the way up the Medal of Honor.

Sgt. Salvatore Giunta
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Medal of Honor Action

The moment that earned Sgt. Giunta the Medal of Honor takes us to Afghanistan in 2007, when he was a Specialist and rifle team leader in the US Army. On October 25, Giunta and his company were ambushed near nightfall. The ambush was well-planned and coordinated, and the combatants were so close that air support couldn't be called in without risking injury to US troops. Specialist Giunta immediately engaged the enemy forces and upon noticing that his squad leader was injured, raced through enemy fire to administer medical aid to his squad leader despite being hit by two bullets. Giunta then used grenades to conceal his position and left to help other wounded soldiers that had been separated from the squadron. At some points, the enemy fire was so bad that Giunta and his company were forced to the ground, but they continued advancing towards the wounded soldiers. At this point, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still cut off from them, and under his own initiative overtook two enemy combatants attempting to carry off the isolated American soldier. As Giunta began to provide medical aid to the soldier, the rest of the squadron caught up with him and provided the support needed to defeat the enemy.

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