On a foot patrol near Paktya Province, Afghanistan, in 2008, then-Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry and soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment made their way into the courtyard of a house believed to contain a number of high-value targets.
While crossing the courtyard, Petry and another Ranger came under intense enemy fire and were both wounded. Petry, who had been hit in both legs, ignored his wounds and managed to lead the other Ranger to cover.
After calling in the situation over the radio, Petry engaged the enemy fighters with a grenade, which provided cover for another Ranger to move to their position.
As soon as that Ranger arrived, though, the enemy intensified their attack, maneuvering closer to the Petry and lobbing grenades toward the suppressed soldiers.
One grenade exploded next to the other two Rangers and knocked them off their feet, pelting both with a hailstorm of shrapnel.
When a second grenade landed only feet from their position, Staff Sgt. Petry jumped into action, picking up the enemy grenade in a desperate effort to throw it away. As he released the grenade, though, it detonated, severing his right hand at the wrist and peppering his body with more shrapnel.
Petry’s selfless action saved his fellow Rangers from death or sustaining even more severe injuries. And despite his own grievous wounds, Petry’s mental focus never wavered.
He quickly fixed a tourniquet to his wrist and got on the radio to call in support for his battered team.
For his actions, Petry was awarded the Medal of Honor. His full citation can be found here.
Petry retired as a master sergeant in 2014, with a total of eight deployments under his belt.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.