Leroy Petry receives Medal of Honor
President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, lauding his “extraordinary heroism” during a solemn White House ceremony Tuesday that marked just the second time since Vietnam that the honor was bestowed to a living recipient.
Petry, an Army Ranger from New Mexico, lost his hand throwing a grenade away from two fellow soldiers during a fight with insurgents in Afghanistan’s Paktia province in May 2008.
Petry had already been shot in both legs but could have dragged himself around a wall to save himself. Instead, he reached over and grabbed the grenade to eliminate the threat to two other soldiers close by, members of his unit told reporters last month.
“What compels such courage? What leads a person to risk everything so that others might live?” Obama asked before awarding the medal.
Petry’s selfless act alone was deserving of the honor, and given his wounds he could have retired from the Army with honor. Instead, Obama said, Petry reenlisted indefinitely, and returned just this year from his eighth deployment.