Americans too often confer the title of “hero” indiscriminately. But Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry is the real deal.
This week, the 28-year-old Army Ranger received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for bravery in combat. Three years ago, in remote eastern Afghanistan, then-staff sergeant Petry and other Rangers came under fire near an insurgent compound.
Hit in both legs, with grenades flying, he sought cover with his comrades. When a grenade landed near his men, he picked it up to hurl it away. It exploded as he threw it, ripping off his right hand. But he saved the lives of two soldiers.
“This is the stuff of which heroes are made,” President Obama declared this week as he clasped the soldier’s prosthetic hand. Bolted to the robotic extension is a plaque inscribed with the names of fallen Rangers from the 75th Regiment.
Even after he was seriously injured, the husband and father of four children chose to re-enlist. Sergeant Petry returned to Afghanistan last year for his eighth deployment.
For his willingness to risk his life for others, and to serve his country despite personal hardship, Sergeant Petry is an American hero. The second living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is a man of honor to whom the nation owes much.