Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hero talks of Wisconsin ties

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam, has some strong ties to Wisconsin.

In the battle that led to President Barack Obama designating him for the medal, Giunta prevented Afghan attackers from carrying off a wounded Wisconsin soldier, Sgt. Josh Brennan.

Brennan's father, Mike Brennan, is a McFarland resident and a Madison police officer.

Josh Brennan's cousin Joseph Brennan of Mequon is serving in the same unit in Afghanistan. You can read about the Brennan family here.

In a Sept. 11 interview, Giunta told the Wisconsin State Journal that he hopes the medal will increase awareness of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He doesn't know how his life will change as the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but he hopes to be able raise awareness about what his fellow soldiers are experiencing.

"Nobody is over here is trick or treating, no one's handing out candy to us," he said.

Many in the military and elsewhere see life going on as usual in the United States while the wars continue to extract heavy sacrifices from those on the battlefields.

"We're sitting here in an air conditioned office in a reclining chair living this life, and we're able to live this life because there are people out there who are not living this life," Giunta said. "We'll spread the word. Sooner or later, they'll get tired of hearing it and they'll start listening."

In a press conference on Sept. 15, here's what Giunta told representatives of national media organizations:

And if other people don’t know, well, hopefully they’ll listen to this and they’ll remember that there’s out -- there’s men and women out there every single day giving everything for their country.

For more, read the State Journal's coverage on the day Giunta's medal was announced by the White House, and a preview article on July 4, 2010.