Soldier Who Risked Life to Save Another to be Awarded Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. soldier who risked his life in Afghanistan in 2007 to save a wounded comrade from being captured by enemy forces will receive the Medal of Honor from President Obama, it was announced Friday.

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living person awarded the medal, the nation's top military honor, since the Vietnam War. The medal is given for the highest valor in combat.

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta served in the Army as rifle team leader for the 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry during combat operations in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The White House says Giunta went beyond the call of duty in October 2007 when he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover.

When he later noticed two insurgents carrying away another soldier, Giunta engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other before he rescued the soldier and tried to provide medical aid.

Obama notified Giunta on Thursday that he will receive the award in a White House ceremony on an as-yet undetermined date.

Giunta, 25, was born and raised in Hiawatha, Iowa, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005, receiving Basic and Infantry training at Ft. Benning, Ga.

He has been deployed for combat to Afghanistan on two occasions, his first in March 2005 until March 2006, and his most recent from May 2007 until July 2008.

Giunta's past decorations and honors include: The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Army Service Ribbon and the NATO Service Medal. His actions as specialist in 2007 also had him promoted to staff sergeant in August 2009.

Giunta will become the eighth serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first soldier to receive the award was Sgt.1st Class Monti, who was honored last September for operations in Afghanistan.

Currently stationed with his wife as a non-commissioned officer in charge of the rear detachment for the 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry in Vicenza, Italy, Giunta works and is responsible for the morale, training, health and welfare of all assigned personnel in his area.