Medal of Honor Recipient to leave the military - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Medal of Honor Recipient to leave the military

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Medal of Honor recipient and Hiawatha native Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta will be leaving the U.S. Army.

Giunta has decided not to re-enlist and will end his military service in June according to the public affairs officer Todd Oliver.

Giunta became the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War when he was honored by the President back in November. Giunta braved enemy fire to rescue two members of his unit during an ambush in Afghanistan.

Since then, the 26-year-old has become a reluctant celebrity appearing on a number of talk shows, pushing the button for the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve and even making an appearance at the Super Bowl.

Giunta is currently assigned to a base in Italy after serving two tours in Afghanistan. Giunta and his wife will return there this week. According to Todd Oliver, the couple will be moving to Fort Collins, Colorado where Giunta will continue his education using the GI Bill.

His wife Jenny is a Dubuque native and his parents still live in the Cedar Rapids area.

In Giunta's home area of Hiawatha and Cedar Rapids, some people are trying to honor his name.

"Most of us veterans all believe this is a very worthwhile project," said Robert Sentman, speaking over the phone with us from his home in Tiffin. He and some of his friends want the new federal courthouse being built in downtown Cedar Rapids to be named after SSG Giunta. He hopes to get support from federal lawmakers.

"I think they could come up with a name that's fitting, using him as the cornerstone," said Sentman, who wrote letters to local mayors and Giunta's parents asking for support. As a veteran himself, Sentman believes it's a fitting tribute for the Medal of Honor recipient.

"I think this area should be able to recognize it. I think it'd be a very positive thing for not only the community, but the state and the nation. It would be a lasting tribute to not only he, but also representing all of the military that have served in the past, present and into the future," Sentman explained.

We spoke with an Iowa National Guard spokesperson, who told us Giunta's parents declined to comment on his decision, but that they respect his decision and are very proud of him.

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