History Wars Afghanistan War

MoH Profile: Salvatore Augustine Giunta

Specialist Salvatore Giunta served in the Army until June 2011. He was presented with a Medal of Honor of November 16, 2010.
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Specialist Salvatore Giunta
Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta

Specialist Salvatore Giunta served in the Army until June 2011. He was presented with a Medal of Honor of November 16, 2010. Giunta was the first living soldier to receive the honor since Vietnam. He served with Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. 

Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta was born on January 21, 1985, in Clinton, Iowa. He attended high school in Cedar Rapids and, upon graduating in 2003, joined the United States Army. He was deployed to Afghanistan numerous times during the War on Terrorism.

Action in Afghanistan

On the night of October 25, 2007, Giunta and his fellow servicemen traveled across a moonlit terrain in the Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan. They waded through a forest of holly but had little to no cover. Suddenly, Taliban forces emerged, armed with AK-47 rifles and rocket grenades, and an assault began.

The American soldiers were instantly overwhelmed by the storm of bullets. The Taliban hit several members of his team, and men began to fall all around him. Sergeant Joshua Brenna, one of his best friends, was hit with eight rounds alone. It seemed at first that the ambush by the Taliban would wipe the Americans out. Soon enough, Giunta himself felt the sting of bullets. One hit his armored vest, and another ricocheted off his back. He knew he had one option: moving forward into the line of fire and taking on the enemy.

Giunta medal of honor
DLA Troop Support provided this Medal of Honor that President Barack Obama presented to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta at the White House Nov. 16. Giunta was the first living recipient of the medal since Vietnam. (Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Taking on the enemy

He and three other soldiers were cornered by the Taliban, which had been firing machine guns at them. Giunta started to throw grenades at the enemy combatants to slow their attacks. The explosions pushed the Taliban back. Soon after, he canvassed the field to locate survivors. Eventually, he spotted a group of Afghan men dragging Sergeant Brennan across the dirt. Giunta fired on them, taking the combatants down one by one.

The remaining Afghans dropped Brenna and retreated into the hills. Giunta sprinted across the field to Brennan. Realizing that he was still alive, Giunta grabbed Brenna and carried him back toward the large rocks at the edge of the valley, and they took cover. Brennan was badly wounded and requested morphine. Giunta stayed by his side and spoke encouraging words, telling Brenna to push through. Soon, backup arrived and administered first aid. Giunta assisted the medics with wrapping Brenna’s wounds. Shortly after, the evacuation team arrived.  

Giunta had crossed into the line of fire to save Brennan, and he had successfully taken him back from the Taliban. Giunta’s brave action also saved the rest of his team from dying that night.