The human condition has always fascinated me. Whether it be heredity or environment, or a combination, some folks can step up to a challenge , turn on that switch and summon the effort at will, while others will wilt, run from it like a hot stove, and seek the comforts of ignominy and mediocrity. But it’s more than just doing the right thing. That voice in your head (conscience) can be either be magnified and unrelenting, or it can be dismissed and ignored, each person hears and obeys to his own tune.
It is with this in mind that we recognize the latest recipient of our nation’s highest award for bravery:
An Army Ranger who lost his right hand and suffered shrapnel wounds after throwing an armed grenade away from his fellow Soldiers will be the second living Medal of Honor Recipient from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On July 12, 2011, President Barack Obama will award Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, with the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Petry will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan, May 26, 2008.
The MOH is not something that is given out for just average acts of gallantry:
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.” Due to the nature of its criteria, it is often awarded posthumously
And what exactly to did Sgt. Petry do to warrant such high praise?
Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry — despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety — consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.
The military services have always recognized their heroes, not just because they are deserving of the accolades, but it speaks to the nature of the men themselves, their training, and the code by which they have chosen to live by, and such actions should be emulated.
I think that all men have this inner conversation within themselves at some point in their lives, namely, do I have the proper mettle? Whether we are talking about Omaha Beach, Picket’s charge, or even defending the hot gates as Thermopylae, what makes these soldiers do what they do?
The main reason the military focuses on esprit de corps in training, to foster the cohesion of the unit, the squad, and the platoon, is that when you are a team, you will subordinate your welfare to that of your unit. You will not let your buddies down, period. When writing this post I was thinking about that hero of heroes, Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in American history:
When asked after the war why he had seized the machine gun and taken on an entire company of German infantry, he replied simply, “They were killing my friends.”
Yep, nothing will piss off a soldier more than seeing his buddies in danger.
Petry has served as a grenadier, squad automatic rifleman, fire team leader, squad leader, operations sergeant, and weapons squad leader.
He has deployed eight times in support of the War on Terror, with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan.
It’s times like this that we put away the politics, and the wisdom (folly) for placing our best and brightest in harm’s way in this manner, and we pay tribute to extra ordinary achievement from someone who was just doing his job, but did it in a manner that makes us all proud.