Skip to main content

Army Ranger receives Medal of Honor for Afghanistan heroics

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Sgt. Petry receives Medal of Honor
  • NEW: Leroy Arthur Petry is 2nd living Medal of Honor recipient of Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts
  • He was wounded by a bullet that went through both legs while serving in Afghanistan
  • He then picked up an enemy grenade and tossed it away from fellow soldiers
  • If not for Petry's actions, "we would have been seriously injured or killed," a Ranger writes

Washington (CNN) -- An Army Ranger who lost his right hand while tossing an enemy grenade away from fellow soldiers in Afghanistan was awarded the Medal of Honor on Tuesday.

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry became the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Iraq and Afghan wars, according to the U.S. military.

"Leroy Petry showed that true heroes still exist, and they're closer than you think," said President Barack Obama, who presented the award to Petry.

Speaking after the ceremony, Petry thanked his family, the medical workers who cared for him and the soldiers who continue to serve in combat overseas.

"To be singled out is very humbling. I consider every one of our men and women in uniform to be our heroes," he said.

Petry was awarded the medal for his actions on May 26, 2008, in Paktia, Afghanistan.

Already wounded by a bullet that went through both his legs, Petry picked up an enemy grenade that landed near him and two fellow Rangers and threw it back toward the enemy, according to the Army News Service. The grenade detonated and blew off Petry's right hand. Petry applied a tourniquet to his wound and called for help.

"If not for Staff Sergeant Petry's actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed," Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a fellow Ranger, wrote in a statement, according to the Army News Service.

Petry, now assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia, was the ninth service member to be presented the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. The other living recipient is Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.

Petry, a father of four from Santa Fe, New Mexico, has served two tours of duty in Iraq and six in Afghanistan.

He urged Americans to keep service members in their thoughts.

"The greatest reward any service member can get is a simple 'thank you,' " he said.

CNN's Chelsea Bailey contributed to this report.