Salvatore Augustine "Sal" Giunta, born January 21, 1985, is a former staff sergeant in the United States Army.
He was the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the United States Armed Forces’ highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.
Giunta was cited for saving the lives of members of his squad on October 25, 2007 during the War in Afghanistan.
Giunta chose not to re-enlist and left the Army in June 2011 and he and his wife moved to Colorado where he enrolled as a student at Colorado State University.
Medal Of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2007.
While conducting a patrol as team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, Specialist Giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force.
While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted toward cover and engaged the enemy.
Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid.
While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon.
Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position.
Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground.
The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element.
Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative and as he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier.
He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other.
Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.
Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness, and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy.
Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, and the United States Army.
Giunta An Uncomfortable Hero
Giunta received the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on November 16, 2010.
All of his surviving squad members also attended the ceremony.
Addressing the attention he has received due to the medal, he said:
"I’m not at peace with that at all. And coming and talking about it and people wanting to shake my hand because of it, it hurts me, because it’s not what I want. And to be with so many people doing so much stuff and then to be singled out—and put forward. I mean, everyone did something".
Giunta’s military decorations include: