History Wars Afghanistan War

MoH Monday: Sgt. Leroy Petry

Despite being wounded, Petry saved his fellow soldiers' lives and launched a counterattack on the enemy.
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During a press conference following his induction into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, July 13, 2011, Medal of Honor recipient Army Sgt. 1st. Class Leroy Petry describes in detail the combat action of May 26, 2008, near Paktya, Afghanistan, during which he distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry in saving the lives of two fellow Rangers. Petry's right hand was traumatically amputated during the fight and he now uses a state-of-the-art prosthesis, which allows him amazing dexterity. DoD photo by R. D. Ward (Released)

Leroy Arthur Petry is a retired member of the United States Army and a recipient of the prestigious Medal of Honor. He earned the award through acts of courage undertaken during a conflict in eastern Afghanistan in 2008.


Leroy Petry. Public Domain.

Petry was inspired to follow his cousin’s footsteps into the military after he saw him enlist in the United States Army as a Ranger. Upon graduation from high school in 1999, he joined the service and attended basic combat training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After completing advanced individual training, Sergeant Petry deployed multiple times, serving in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. A versatile service member, he held numerous positions during his deployments, including grenadier, squad rifleman, and fireteam leader.

Medal of Honor Action 

In 2008, Sergeant Petry deployed to Paktya Province, Afghanistan, with the 75th Ranger Regiment. On May 26, Sergeant Petry and his fellow service members set out with a significant task – take out an Al-Qaeda official hiding in a compound. Upon entering the courtyard, they encountered heavy gunfire that left Petry wounded with shots to both of his legs before help could arrive.

Despite his wounds, he was able to lead his two fellow service members to cover. After retreating and securing their position, Sergeant Petry launched a counterattack by tossing hand grenades at the enemy snipers. Then, he attempted to contact headquarters for assistance.

However, before Sergeant Petry could transmit the signal, a member of Al-Qaeda hurled a grenade at him and his fellow Rangers. The blast knocked the soldiers down and sprayed them with shrapnel. Soon after, another attacker ran forward, throwing a second grenade. Recognizing the danger, Sergeant Petry grabbed the device from the ground and began to toss it away. Unfortunately, it detonated in his grasp and severed his hand at the wrist. Undeterred, Sergeant Petry radioed headquarters to request an evacuation. Backup arrived shortly after, and the conflict ended.

Sergeant Petry was flown to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Texas, where he completed his recovery. Thanks to his tremendous courage, his two fellow service members survived the attack in Paktya Province.

Award and Subsequent Service

Sergeant Petry continued to serve in the United States Army for several years after his action in Afghanistan. On July 12th, 2011, President Barack Obama presented him with a Medal of Honor during a special ceremony at the White House. In his award presentation, President Obama said, “The service of Leroy Petry speaks to the very essence of America – that spirit that says, no matter how hard the journey, no matter how steep the climb, we don’t quit. We don’t give up. Leroy lost a hand and those wounds in his legs sometimes make it hard for him to stand. But he pushes on…this is the stuff of which heroes are made. This is the strength, the devotion that makes our troops the pride of every American. And this is the reason that – like a soldier named Leroy Petry – America doesn’t simply endure, we emerge from our trials stronger, more confident, with our eyes fixed on the future.”

Petry retired from the military in 2014 as a Master Sergeant.