At long last: a living Medal of Honor winner, Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta *UPDATED*

As the last part of our Alaska cruise, which started and ended in Seattle, we went to the Museum of Flight.  I wrote about our museum visit here, and mention this earlier post because I wrote that all four of us were riveted by the monitor playing fairly extended interviews with living Medal of Honor winners from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  These courageous men are treasures beyond compare, and death is not, and should not be, the only measure of bravery.  One of those treasures just got his due.

Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, a man who thankfully still walks among us, was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous acts of bravery in Afghanistan.  The official announcement, although brief, gives some idea of Staff Sgt. Giunta’s heroism and his commitment to his men:

When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.

There is much more to this story, and Blackfive promises updates with more details.  You can also read more at the Mudville Gazette.

I appreciate this story not just because Staff Sgt. Giunta got the recognition he deserves, but because his personality and conduct help send a larger message.  The news may make it look as if America going down for the last count, but stories like Staff Sgt. Giunta’s remind us that America has a core of strength that reveals itself in certain people, at certain times.  If we abuse that core too much, it will fail us; but if we look to it and cultivate it — well, Americans are a strong and compassionate people.

UPDATE:  A Stars and Stripes interview with Giunta.