Captain Florent A. Groberg is a French-born American who served in the United States Army from 2008 to 2015. After becoming a U.S. Citizen in 2001, he enrolled at the University of Maryland. There, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology. Groberg enlisted in the Army in 2008. Following that, he entered Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning. He eventually earned a Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan during the War on Terrorism.
He served as the Personal Security Detachment Commander with the Task Force Mountain Warrior, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Action in Afghanistan
In August of 2012, he served as the task force commander charged with transporting Afghan National Army personnel. Their journey started at Forward Operating Base Fiaz and took them to a compound in Kunar, Afghanistan, to the east. The escort mission required the convoy to cross a narrow bridge over the Kunar River near the border of Pakistan. However, all did not go as planned. As the convoy crossed the river, Groberg’s team encountered two motorcyclists approaching them from the opposite direction. Suddenly, the cyclists hopped off their vehicles and turned back on foot.
Keeping watch, Groberg noticed an unidentified person walking over the bridge toward the convoy. As the pedestrian got closer, Grober realized that the pedestrian had on a suicide vest. Without delay, Groberg ran toward the suicide bomber and tackled him. At this point, Sergeant Andrew Mahoney ran forward to assist Groberg. The three began to scuffle, but Grober and Mahoney successfully pulled the suicide bomber away from the convoy formation. While in Groberg’s grasp, the suicide bomber detonated his device. The explosion propelled Groberg into the air, and he landed nearly 20 feet away.
No time to rest
Following the initial blast, a second undetected bomber detonated his vest as well. According to the Army, the second bomber activated his device early, realizing that Groberg had ruined the enemy assault. As a result, Groberg’s swift action prevented the bombers from reaching the center of the convoy formation and killing countless military personnel.
Groberg himself lost nearly half of the muscle in his left leg because of the explosion, and he sustained a minor brain injury. He was flown to Walter Reed National Medical Center, where he spent the next three years in recovery. He retired from the military in 2015, mainly out of medical necessity.
On November 12, 2015, President Obama presented Captain Groberg with the Medal of Honor for his bravery in 2012. Groberg was the first foreign-born soldier to receive the prestigious award for fighting in the War on Terrorism. Though he retired from active service, Groberg went on to work as a civilian employee at the Department of Defense. Read more about Groberg's remarkable life here.