President Obama salutes Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry
The burdens borne and the valor displayed by a handful of Americans are reflected in the bravery and service of Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, Medal of Honor recipient.
THE extraordinary valor of Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry offers a window on a military community that fewer and fewer Americans experience.
Petry is a native of Santa Fe, N.M., but we in Puget Sound claim him as one of our own. He was stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord before his fateful 2008 deployment to Afghanistan, and he is currently stationed there. He helps other injured Army Rangers with their recovery.
President Obama awarded Petry the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony Tuesday, the 149th anniversary of the distinction created by Congress and signed into law on July 12, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln.
Petry was 28 years old when he was shot in both legs during a raid in the Afghan province of Paktia, near Pakistan. Two Rangers were wounded by an enemy grenade, and a second landed near Petry. As he threw the grenade back toward the Taliban insurgents, it exploded, taking off his right hand.
He applied a tourniquet to his wrist as he continued to direct the Rangers around him. His training, his instincts, his decency compelled him to look out for others. That is courage, that is leadership.
Petry is a member of two elite groups in our culture. Among his military comrades, he is only the ninth Medal of Honor recipient — and only the second living recipient — from the Iraq and Afghan wars.
The burden and sacrifice of fighting two wars has fallen on a very small group of Americans. Petry has been deployed six times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq. That is eight preparations, eight lethal exposures and eight post-tour adjustments.
Meanwhile, a decade has passed with most Americans barely looking up. War is left to others and their families to endure. Indeed, mortal combat is fought with a video console from the family-room sofa.
Petry's valor and selfless service for this country is humbling and beyond comprehension for most of his fellow citizens.
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