Medal of Honor awarded to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Medal of Honor awarded to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -- President Obama has awarded Hiawatha native Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor.

Giunta is the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. The seven previous medals awarded to service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were given shortly after the soldiers died.

Giunta received the medal for his courageous actions during combat operations in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan in October 2007.

"The Medal of Honor reflects the gratitude of the entire nation," President Obama said during the ceremony.

The President also said the award is a credit to Giunta's parents and the community where he was raised.

Giunta was joined at the ceremony by his parents, Steven and Rosemary Giunta, and his wife Jenny, who is from Dubuque.

During a press conference with reporters back in September, Giunta said if he is to be considered a hero, so should every person serving in the armed forces.

"If I'm a hero, then every man that stands around me, every woman in the military, everyone who goes into the unknown is a hero. So if you think that that's a hero, as long as you include everyone with me," Giunta said.

He also said receiving the honor is bittersweet.

"It's emotional and it's great. All of this is great. But it does bring back then a lot of memories of all the people that I would love to share this moment with and I'm just not going to have that opportunity because they're no longer with us. And they gave everything for their country. And in doing that we're not going to be able to enjoy this together," Giunta said.

Giunta, 25, serves as a staff sergeant based in Italy with Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He is from Hiawatha and graduated from Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids.

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military award, given in recognition of distinguished gallantry during hostile action. It is presented by the President of the United States in the name of Congress. The last Iowan to receive the Medal of Honor was Colonel George Day of Sioux City. He was honored in 1976 for his service in the Vietnam War.


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