CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (WKOW) -- President Barack Obama has declared a soldier from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a national hero.
Obama called Army Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta at his post in Italy Thursday to let him know he would receive the national Medal of Honor. He will be the first living soldier to receive the country's highest military decoration since Vietnam.
Giunta set himself apart during a battle in Afghanistan in October of 2007. He put himself in harm's way, saving the lives of several fellow soldiers.
After Joshua Brennan of McFarland was mortally wounded during an ambush in Afghanistan's Korangal Valley in October 2007, Taliban fighters began dragging him away. Giunta, who was leading the patrol, charged into enemy fire, killing one enemy fighter and wounding another before dragging Brennan back. A few minutes earlier, Giunta had rescued another soldier too. Brennan later died of his wounds.
Sgt. Giunta's parents, Rose and Steve Giunta, say their oldest son was a handful during his teenage years, but changed when he entered the service.
"In serving his country, he found an outlet for all his energy and turned it into something positive," said Steve Giunta at a news conference. He said his son is humble and truly believes he did nothing any other soldier wouldn't have done in similar circumstances.
There is no word on when Giunta will be presented with his medal at the White House.
Giunta is the 109th Iowan to receive a Medal of Honor since its inception during the Civil War. The latest living Medal of Honor recipient, for service in Vietnam, is also an Iowa native.
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