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February 10, 2011

Medal Of Honor Recipient Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta Is Leaving The Army

He has more than done his bit for God and country.

Giunta has decided not to sign a contract for continued service in the Army, public affairs officer Todd Oliver said Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Hiawatha, Iowa, native has been the face of the Afghanistan war since President Obama presented him with the nation’s highest military award in November. “SSG Giunta’s military service will end on or about 13 June,” Oliver wrote in an e-mail from Italy.

...He served two tours in Afghanistan, from March 2005 to March 2006, and from May 2007 to July 2008.

I've seen a number of interviews with Staff Sargent Giunta since he was decorated by the President in November and am always amazed not only by his actions that fateful day in Afghanistan but also his humility and dignity. It can't be easy to have to publicly relieve the events that led to the death of two friends on a near daily basis. It's clear he is keenly aware of the burden he caries to represent not just himself and the Army but his fellow soldiers; both those who survived and those who fell.

He is the first serviceman to survive the actions for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor in the modern media world. It would have been very easy for him to crack or fail to live up to the burdens of his public duties. He never has.

I don't doubt he will continue to serve in other ways and continue to represent the men and women of the US military in important ways. But for now, may God bless him with some peace and relative quiet as he embarks on the next phase of his life.

One final note...watch the video below when you have a few minutes. It's from the the filmmakers of the highly touted documentary, Restrepo. In this short film, Giunta and his commanding officer retell the events of the battle for which Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor. Especially moving is his reaction to finding out he would be honored. The ambivalence he expresses is powerful. I hope he understands now or will at some point, just how well he has discharged his duties since being awarded the Medal of Honor.

Content warning for some language. Definitely a few Not Safe for Work moments.

The Sal Giunta Story from SebastianJunger/TimHetherington on Vimeo.

Video via the American Legion's blog, Burn Pit.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:01 PM

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