Parents of Medal of Honor recipient proud and humbled - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Parents of Medal of Honor recipient proud and humbled

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- The parents of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta have a reason to feel proud Saturday night. President Obama is awarding the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Giunta for the 25-year-old's heroic actions while serving in Afghanistan.

This announcement has put Steven and Rose Giunta into the spotlight. Their son, they call him "Sal", is a reserved person, so they're happy to protect his privacy, and speak on his behalf. They want the public to know, this honor means a great deal to Staff Sgt. Giunta and his wife. They also believe the men and women serving with Staff Sgt. Giunta are just as deserving.

"They go away to become soldiers, and they come back men. And you still -- you shake their hand as a man, but you hug them as a child," recalled Steven Giunta.

In Rose and Steven's eyes, Sal will always be their child. The rest of the world views the soldier as a hero.

"We heard that the President probably would call him, and Steve and I had talked -- we never thought we'd raise that one and have a president call him!" said Rose.

The Medal of Honor is a bittersweet award. Staff Sgt. Giunta's courageous actions were the result of a deadly ambush.

"If any of you have children, you can tell by his voice that something's not right. He wasn't able to share," recalled Rose. "I said, Sal, what happened? He says, mom, we lost Josh today. Josh was not only one of his men, he was also one of his friends. And I said, can you tell me what happened? And he says, I can't mom. I'm just not ready to. I was crying, looking out the window, going -- God help me. Help me talk about something beyond these questions running through my head."

She continued, "as much as we're here because of what Sal did, there's parents out there that will not know, they'll never know what this feels like. And yet, their sons and daughters deserve this too."

Rose and Steven haven't had the chance to congratulate their son in person. They won't see Sal until he flies to Washington D.C. to accept the nation's greatest tribute.

"I don't know if we're invited, but I'm going to be there!" Steven joked.

Staff Sgt. Giunta has served two combat deployments to Afghanistan. He enlisted at age 18, right after graduating from Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids.

Staff Sgt. Giunta is currently stationed in Italy, and will be up for re-enlistment in November. At this point, he has not decided if he will continue his service.

At this point, there is no date set for Staff Sgt. Giunta to accept his medal. He is the first living soldier to receive the award since the Vietnam War.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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