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Wounded Ranger to be awarded Medal of Honor

E-7 from 75th Ranger Regiment is 2nd living recipient since Afghanistan, Iraq wars began

May. 31, 2011 - 06:26PM   |   Last Updated: May. 31, 2011 - 06:26PM  |  
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry lost his right hand and suffered other wounds after throwing a grenade away from his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry lost his right hand and suffered other wounds after throwing a grenade away from his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan. (Army)
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An Army Ranger who lost his right hand and suffered shrapnel wounds after throwing a grenade away from his fellow soldiers will receive the Medal of Honor July 12, the White House announced Tuesday.

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry will be the second living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Petry, like">Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who received the nation's highest award for valor in November, will be honored for actions while serving in Afghanistan.

Petry, 31, will be recognized for his actions during combat operations May 26, 2008, in Paktya, Afghanistan.

"It's very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that," Petry said when he learned he had been nominated for the medal, according to an Army news story.

In 2008, Petry was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

On May 26, 2008, the soldiers were conducting a rare daytime raid to capture a high-value target, according to the Army.

Petry was to place himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured and serve as the senior noncommissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation, according to the Army.

When he learned that one of the assault squads needed help clearing their assigned building, Petry told the platoon leader that he was moving to that squad to provide additional supervision and guidance. After the squad cleared the residential portion of the building, Petry took Pfc. Lucas Robinson to clear the outer courtyard.

At least three enemy fighters, positioned at opposite ends of the courtyard, were waiting for them.

When Petry and Robinson entered the courtyard and crossed an open area, an enemy fighter opened fire. A bullet went through both of Petry's legs. Robinson was hit in his side plate by another round.

Petry led Robinson to cover behind a chicken coop while the enemy continued to fire. Petry reported that they had made contact and that he and Robinson were wounded.

Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a team leader at the building, moved to the outer courtyard to help his fellow Rangers.

As Higgins evaluated the two wounded soldiers, an enemy fighter threw a grenade that landed about 10 meters away from the three soldiers. The explosion knocked them to the ground and wounded Higgins and Robinson. Two more Rangers, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole, entered the courtyard and moved to help.

The enemy threw yet another grenade. This time, it landed just a few feet from Higgins and Robinson.

Petry, despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his own safety, moved toward the grenade, grabbed it and threw it away from his fellow Rangers, according to the Army.

The grenade detonated as Petry released it to throw it back at the enemy. His right hand was catastrophically amputated.

Petry remained calm and even placed a tourniquet on his own arm and reported his injury over the radio.

Meanwhile, Roberts began engaging the enemy with small arms fire and a grenade. He suppressed the enemy behind the chicken coop but another enemy fighter on the east end of the courtyard began firing and fatally wounded Gathercole.

Higgins and Robinson returned fire, killing the enemy, according to the Army.

Petry, who is from Santa Fe, N.M., is the ninth service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first seven were awarded posthumously.

Spc. Ross McGinnis, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were honored posthumously for their actions in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti and Navy Lt. Michael Murphy were honored posthumously for their actions in Afghanistan.

Petry, who joined the Army in September 1999, is currently assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment and attached to Special Operations Command. He serves at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a liaison for the SOCOM Care Coalition, where he tracks and monitors injured Rangers returning from combat operations to the initial place of care to home station care.

He has deployed eight times since Sept. 11, 2001 twice to Iraq and six times to Afghanistan.

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