For the first time since the end of the Vietnam War, a living soldier was awarded the United States’ highest military distinction, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 25, of Hiawatha, Iowa, will receive the designation at the White House for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” above and beyond the call of duty in Afghanistan. His act of heroism came in October 2007 when, while serving on his second tour of duty, his unit came under attack. As Giunta watched several soldiers go down, he returned enemy fire and threw grenades on his way to helping one injured soldier, who was being carried away by two Taliban fighters. Giunta shot one of them, causing the other to run away, and administered first aid to his wounded friend. The soldier eventually died, but Giunta’s rescue meant he was not left to the mercy of the Taliban and received a proper military burial.
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