Take everything cowardly, pathetic, and low from the last 48 hours or so of news and imagine the precise opposite. If you can’t, just read this.


Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007.

When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.

WaPo has a more detailed description of the firefight. Giunta took a bullet to the chest (stopped by his body armor), then ran headlong into the ambush while returning fire and throwing grenades. Pure bravery? No, better: Bravery plus tactical presence of mind.

Giunta said he kept racing ahead during the ambush not out of a sense of honor or morality but because he instinctively knew that the Taliban was trying to separate the platoon members from one another. If the paratroopers had allowed that to happen, odds were they would all die.

“I didn’t run through fire to save a buddy,” Giunta told Junger. “I ran through fire to see what was going on with him and maybe we could hide behind the same rock and shoot together. I didn’t run through fire to do anything heroic or brave. I did what I believe anyone would have done.”

The guy he kept from being taken hostage later died from his wounds, but at least he was spared the torture and misery he would have suffered as a Taliban trophy in the last hours of his life. Exit quotation: “Everything slowed down and I did everything I thought I could do, nothing more and nothing less.”