U.S. Army Europe paratrooper to receive Medal of Honor

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
Sept. 10, 2010

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- The White House announced today that Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in an ambush in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in 2007.

"We are extremely proud of this courageous and humble Soldier," said Brig. Gen. Michael A. Ryan, Deputy Commanding General of V Corps. "He is a true role model for all of the Army team here in Europe."

The 25-year-old sergeant from Cedar Rapids, Iowa enlisted in November 2003 and has served his entire military career with the 173rd’s Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, a U.S. Army Europe unit in Vicenza, Italy.

Giunta’s platoon was ambushed at close range by an enemy force on the evening of Oct. 25, 2007. During the firefight that followed, Giunta, then a specialist, organized his squad to repel the attack and repeatedly moved through enemy fire to help and recover wounded comrades.

The nomination documents for the award recommended Giunta be presented the Medal of Honor for his  “selfless actions and personal courage, which were decisive factors in changing the tide of the battle…. Despite bullets impacting on and an around him, Spc. Giunta fearlessly advanced on the enemy and provided aid to his fallen comrades. His actions saved the lives of multiple paratroopers and changed the course of the battle in his platoon’s favor.”

Giunta is the first living American Soldier to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, and the second Europe-based Soldier to earn America’s highest award for valor in combat since the start of post 9/11 combat operations. Spc. Ross McGinnis of 1st Armored Division’s Schweinfurt, Germany-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry was posthumously awarded the medal in 2008 for saving the lives of his fellow team members by throwing himself on an enemy grenade during a firefight in Baghdad in 2006.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team ("Sky Soldiers") is an airborne infantry brigade combat team based in Vicenza, Italy with Battalions in Vicenza, Italy as well as Schweinfurt and Bamberg, Germany. As a subordinate unit of the U.S. Army Europe's V Corps, the 173rd trains for and conducts contingency operations to support EUCOM and other combatant commands.

About us: The U.S. Army in Europe, with NATO and other coalition partners from throughout its 51-country area of responsibility, trains for, conducts, and supports contingency operations. Headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, USAREUR has forces throughout Germany as well as in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Romania, and deployed to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.