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MOH recipient Giunta writes his memoir

Sep. 27, 2012 - 05:25PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 27, 2012 - 05:25PM  |  
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President Obama presents Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 16, 2010. (Sheila Vemmer / Staff)

A memoir by former Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for combat since the Vietnam War, will be released Dec. 4.

"Living with Honor: A Memoir" was written by Giunta, who has left the Army, and veteran sportswriter Joe Layden. The book is being published by Simon and Schuster.

Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, during a ceremony Nov. 16, 2010, at the White House. He was recognized for running through heavy enemy fire to rescue a badly wounded comrade who was being carried away by enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

In his book, he describes in detail the experiences and challenges he and his buddies had in Afghanistan and their encounters with the people there. "I absolutely guarantee that some of the people we helped during the week were the same ones picking up guns on the weekend," he wrote.

Giunta, of Hiawatha, Iowa, was assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in Vicenza, Italy.

He was honored for his actions on Oct. 25, 2007, in Afghanistan's deadly Korengal valley.

Giunta was a specialist when he and his platoon were caught in an L-shaped ambush as they were moving through the Gitagal spur to provide overwatch for their sister platoons.

An estimated 15 enemy fighters blasted AK-47 and machine-gun fire and shot rocket-propelled grenades at the soldiers, pinning them down. The two soldiers in the lead team, including Sgt. Josh Brennan, were wounded immediately and separated from the rest of the platoon.

Ignoring the heavy fire, Giunta led his fire team to provide covering fire for his wounded comrades, and as the soldiers fought back, Giunta raced into the open to provide aid to at least two other wounded soldiers.

Giunta was hit by two bullets, including one in the front plate of his body armor, but he continued to fight. He pushed forward with his team to the two wounded soldiers in the lead team even as the enemy, unbeknownst to the soldiers, tried to create a wall of lead to separate the lead element from the rest of the platoon.

The soldiers pressed forward, throwing grenades at enemy fighters only 10 to 15 meters away. They finally reached the lead team and Giunta sprinted through heavy enemy small-arms and machine-gun fire to get to Brennan, who was badly wounded and being dragged away by two enemy fighters.

Giunta killed one of the enemy fighters and wounded the other before pulling Brennan back to safety.

Brennan died from his wounds after being evacuated to a combat support hospital. Spc. Hugo Mendoza also was killed in that ambush.

The Medal of Honor awarded to Giunta was the eighth since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Giunta, who enlisted in 2003 and served two deployments to Afghanistan, left the Army last year. He now lives in Colorado with his wife, Jen, and their daughter.

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