Obama awards JBLM sergeant with Medal of Honor
President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday to a Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) Army sergeant who lost his hand in Afghanistan when he tried to toss an enemy grenade away from himself and two colleagues.
“Today, we honor a singular act of gallantry,” Obama said. “The Medal of Honor reflects the deepest gratitude of our nation.” Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry is the second living, active-duty service member to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for actions in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.
Petry was being recognized for courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the eastern Afghan province of Paktia in May 2008. The 31-year-old was shot in both legs and then lost a hand while throwing an enemy grenade away from himself and two fellow Army Rangers – all the while continuing to call out orders so that his unit could fulfill its mission, according to soldiers who served with him. “Leroy Petry showed that true heroes still exist and they are closer than you think,” Obama said.
Petry was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment when he was wounded during a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target. Petry was clearing the courtyard of a targeted compound with Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson when they came under fire. A bullet pierced both of Petry’s legs, and he and Robinson took cover by a chicken coop. As Sgt. Daniel Higgins arrived, a grenade was thrown from the other side of the coop, landed about 30 feet away and exploded, wounding Higgins and Robinson. A second grenade landed even closer to the three wounded Rangers – just a few feet away. Petry grabbed it and tried to toss it away, but it exploded in his hand.
“To be singled out is very humbling. I consider every one of our men and women in uniform serving here, abroad, to be our heroes,” Petry said. “They sacrifice every day and deserve your continued support and recognition.”
Despite being eligible for a medical discharge, he has chosen to stay on active duty and is working near his unit at JBLM helping injured soldiers adjust to life after battle.
What a true hero and an inspiration for us! God Bless him and his family.