Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Heroism Defined - MOH Recipient Army Ranger Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry

BRAVO ZULU Staff Sgt. Petry.....You have our thanks and admiration.

Heroism Defined
Leroy Petry and the Medal of Honor

Of all the words that modern English has debased, probably none rivals "hero" for promiscuous usage. To read about what an Army Ranger named Leroy Petry did in Afghanistan on May 26, 2008 is to understand what heroism in its truest sense denotes.

Staff Sgt. Petry, who yesterday was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama, was taking part in a helicopter raid on a Taliban compound in Paktia province when a round from an AK-47 went through both of his legs. He remained in action, helping one fellow soldier move to safety and then returning to fight. He later grabbed a live grenade that had landed near two other Rangers. It detonated as he tried to throw it away, severing his right hand and riddling his body with shrapnel.

Staff Sgt. Petry survived the battle, and in winning the Medal of Honor he joins Staff Sgt. Salvatore Guinta among the nine recipients of the honor for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the only two living. There has been some controversy as to why the Medal has been bestowed so sparingly in our current wars—248 were awarded in Vietnam—with some arguing that a risk-averse Pentagon brass fears giving it to soldiers who might have embarrassing blemishes on their service records. The likeliest explanation is that most casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan have come about as a result of IED attacks.

Whatever the case, it detracts nothing from the honor, sacrifice and courage of our service members that the Medal of Honor remains rare and, therefore, precious. In an age in which it seems like every teacher, nurse and Little League coach gets to be called a "hero," it's important to have the likes of Staff Sgt. Petry to remind us of the real meaning of a word, no quote marks, full stop.

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