Search Box

Monday, January 3, 2011

Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta

You may have heard of Sal Giunta, the nation's first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Viet Nam War.

On October 25, 2007, Giunta's platoon was ambushed in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. When Staff Sgt. Erik Gallardo was hit by a bullet to his helmet, Giunta leapt up, exposing himself to enemy gunfire, and rushed over to help him. After rescuing Gallardo, Giunta saw that Sgt. Josh Brennan was missing. He then raced ahead and saw that two insurgents were carrying the wounded Brennan away. Giunta shot and killed one of the insurgents; the other ran away. Giunta then carried the mortally wounded Brennan back to cover.

Giunta has been interviewed countless times since he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He's always well spoken and down to earth. Each time he says pretty much the same thing: he doesn't deserve the medal any more than any other member of his platoon, and he doesn't deserve it as much as the two who died. He frequently mentions that he wasn't even the best soldier in his platoon, and was surrounded by others who were smarter, stronger, quicker, and braver.

Could there possibly be a better representative of the Medal of Honor, of the military, or, for that matter, of the United States?

Giunta has received many invitations in the past few months. Wherever he goes, whether it's a football game or a hockey game, the David Letterman Show or Times Square on New Year's Eve, he gets a standing ovation. This is as it should be.

At the same time, he's right about one thing. There are plenty of other people in the military who probably also deserve the award, but have not received similar recognition. That underscores the fact that every last person who signs up for a combat role in the armed forces is more of a hero than any sports star, movie star, or business tycoon.

I admit I'm biased now that I have a son in the military. But I wish they'd stop using the word "hero" to describe someone who's good at his sport. That word should be reserved for someone who puts his life on the line for others.


Anonymous said...

great post, exactly on the mark. I haven't watched professional sports for years now for that exact reason. Players get paid too much money, treatment as though they were some type of God, and act like children. Granted there are some exceptions to the rule, but most of them are much to full of themselves. Anyone who has served in the military and especially combat are true heroes. As I told Johnny and George before they shipped out that they had my highest respect. There are little to no second chances in their profession, losers come bag in boxes and winners get to try it again the next day. Its to bad most of this country just doesn't get it.

Always Faithful


John Craig said...

Thank you Tom.

dgh said...

Excellent write-up John and so very true Tom! After watching George graduate from basic training and seeing all those young faces, I realize this is so much bigger than me, a mother worrying about her soldier son. Anyone who enlists during a time of war deserves to be regarded in the highest esteem. What did make me feel better though was realizing that many people are appreciative of our young soldiers. While George was eating a big lunch with a group of soldiers in Oklahoma, two women anonymously paid their restaurant check. At Laguardia people were walking up to George and thanking him for his service. And Delta Airlines upgraded George and another soldier to first class and gave them priority through security so they wouldn't have to wait in long lines on their way home for Christmas. I never realized how much the support would mean to me! Donna

John Craig said...

Donna --
Thank you, and those are heartwarming stories about George. I always ask Johnny how George is doing, and he tells me what he's been up to. Nice to see that George is having those experiences; he certainly deserves them.

Anonymous said...

I'd say a hero is someone who makes major sacrifices or potential major sacrifices for the good of others but the sacrifice doesn't have to be putting ones life on the line. But putting ones life on the line is the biggest potential sacrifice and Sal Giunta is an amazing hero.

John Craig said...

Anonymous -- I'd be more likely to call someone who makes sacrifices of their time or of money to be a Good Samaritan, or maybe just a good person; but we basically agree.