Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007.
When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.
Blackfive made the announcement back on July 1, but it was made official this past Thursday by President Obama:
[Thursday], President Obama spoke with Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta to inform him that he will be awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry at the risk of his life that went above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant Giunta will be the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. The President thanked Sergeant Giunta for his service and extraordinary bravery in battle.
The 2nd Battalion (Airborne) 503rd Infantry Regiment “The Rock” deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 for 15 months of the most intense combat any US unit has faced in this war. During the time they spent on the border with Pakistan, this one battalion averaged three troops in contact incidents every day. They were right in the path of the Taliban’s major push back into Afghanistan after years of resting, recruiting and retraining in their safe havens in Pakistan. The Rock proudly upheld the tradition of our airborne forces in some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth. SSG Giunta was a member of Battle Company and the exploits of some of his compatriots in that unit are vividly chronicled in Sebastian Junger’s book “War” and the documentary “Restrepo” (in theaters now) he made with Tim Hetherington. The two spent a total of five months with a platoon from Battle Company and the book and film show the tremendous challenges these men faced and overcame.
Giunta was a Specialist when the action occurred and his squad was hit with a well-planned ambush at extremely close range. He was the trail team leader and Josh Brennan was the lead. When the fighting started Brennan was severely wounded, their squad leader was knocked to the ground, their medic was killed and several others were wounded. Giunta immediately began maneuvering toward the enemy throwing grenades and eventually charging them when he saw two of them hauling Josh away. He emptied a magazine killing one and wounding the other and grabbed Brennan telling Josh to stay with him so that he would get a chance to tell heroic stories. They did get Brennan on a medevac chopper, but unfortunately his wounds were too severe and he didn’t survive. But Giunta’s actions stopped the Taliban from taking him and by running headlong at the enemy he disrupted the ambush. SSG Giunta’s story can be read in Junger’s book “War” starting on page 115.