...An Infantry Sergeant in Afghanistan, a Korean War Veteran, a Hawaiian Homemaker...all heroes...
By all standards, he was an ordinary person. Until you read about his extraordinary selfless uncommon sacrifice...
Photo credit: Fotolia
The Medal of Honor citation reads like this:
"...Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, 25 October 2007.While conducting a patrol as team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, Specialist Giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force....
...While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid...
...While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta's body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground....
...The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. ...
...As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security....
....Specialist Giunta's unwavering courage, selflessness, and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy. Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, and the United States Army...."
Above and beyond the Call of Duty. ...
When I think about Salvatore, I also think about my Uncle.
Uncle "Eti" who is finally going home in restful peace this Friday, May 20th, 2011.
He'll join nearly 34,000 other veterans who will welcome him home to a place of final rest called Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii. Uncle Eti fought in the "forgotten war" or the Korean War. And I don't know to this day what possessed him to volunteer and fight in Korea. But I respected him for his decision.
His story of one battle is sketchy. With child-like curiosity, I listened to his story. One night, his infantry unit defended some high ground. Their defensive line was thin, meaning they were only a few soldiers covering an area marked as fields of fire. I think it was something like a handful of soldiers defending a stretch of terrain made for a unit two to three times its size.
As Uncle Eti spoke of that one night, his eyes swelled in sadness, then anger, then tears. He shared a foxhole with a few of his buddies. I imagined him having the usual soldier talk and banter mixed in with cusses and thoughts of women and booze. But then I also sensed a tinge of loyalty to each other, an uncommon bond.
You probably know what I am talking about if you've seen the HBO movie mini-series "Band of Brothers." If you haven't, read my own personal account of meeting 2 survivors in my article "Secrets of Normandy."
The night in Korea waned on, almost felt like an eternity. The young soldier's small talk was replaced now by nervous silence. Then the Chinese attack began with the sound of trumpets. blaring, Overhead flares popped, revealing the eerie battlefield below. Hundreds of advancing Chinese soldiers made there way forward like a marauding swarm of locusts.
The call, "Open Fire" sounded. Machine gun and small arms fires erupted and raked through the Chinese ranks. They fell, but another, sometimes two replace them. Artillery and mortar fires rained in from the sky above but did little good. Soon, the outnumbered US soldiers ran out of ammunition.
My Uncle looked at the foxhole next to him. His buddies were all dead now and he was out of ammunition.
And the Chinese Army was advancing...
In shear terror, he left his foxhole and ran towards the rear of the fighting positions. While moving, a hand grenade landed in front of him and exploded. Days later he was found by a relief force. His battle was only beginning.
Years later and after many surgeries, a scar nearly the entire length of his torso snaked its way from the rear of his back to his chest. The scar would only be a surface wound that hid the deep and emotional turmoil he would endure for years to come. Battle fatigue. Today's PTSD.
And there is still another hero: my Mom. I have never come across another person who is so compassionate and so concerned genuinely for the well-being of others especially ---for my Uncle Et in his time of need. She had just successfully arranged long-term care for Uncle Eti and was looking forward to visiting and caring for him. Only to come up short when Uncle Eti died in his hospital bed. But now he rests in eternal peace. Mom will endure because she is an enduring person.
These unexplainable acts of self-sacrifice serve only to help us understand that there is a certain kind of love that transcends all knowledge and power. And that power is selfless giving.
This Memorial Day, remember our veterans and their sacrifice who served well. Remember them as a larger part of ourselves---all gave some and some gave all with the ultimate sacrifice.
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"They Gave It All"
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|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|God bless all of our military heroes; I salute you and all who serve(d)!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Texas, Karen Lynn (sister of/daughter of/cousin of/niece of Veterans [all branches]!). :D
|Reviewed by CJ Heck
|Hello Myles, it's a pleasure to 'meet' you. This article really grabbed me. You did an excellent job with the account and I applaud you.