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In praise of mediocre soldiers
Old 11-15-2010, 12:43 AM   #1
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In praise of mediocre soldiers

On Tuesday, the President will present Staff Sgt. Salvatore 'Sal' Giunta with the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to a living soldier since the Vietnam war for his heroic actions in Afghanistan.

The lovely Laura Logan who has spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, had a quite a good interview with Sgt.Giunta on last nights 60 Minutes.

I am sure you'll understand the threads title by the end.

60 Minutes Video - Staff Sgt. Giunta's Medal of Honor - CBS.com
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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I saw the show last night. Pretty impressive guy. Pretty impressive bunch of guys.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for the post.

The award's citation:

Quote:
“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 to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.”
From Wikipedia:
Quote:


Giunta and his eight-man squad[9] were moving along a ridgeline of Honcho Hill when at least a dozen insurgents[10] mounted an L-shaped ambush at such close range that close air support could not be provided. Sergeant Josh Brennan, who was walking point, suffered at least 6 gunshot wounds. Giunta, then a specialist, was the fourth soldier back and squad leader Erick Gallardo third. Gallardo attempted to sprint forward but encountered heavy RPG and small arms fire. While moving back to cover, he was struck in the helmet and fell.[8] Giunta saw Gallardo go down and ran to him, but while pulling the sergeant back to cover Giunta took a bullet to the chest[7] and another bullet destroyed a weapon slung over his back.[11] The platoon commander, Lt Brad Winn, radioed Kearney to advise him that he had five men down (the squad's medic, Spec. Hugo Mendoza, was fatally wounded at the beginning of the ambush). Kearney ordered Second Platoon to assist Winn's platoon but Second Platoon had to cross a river to do so.[7]
Both Giunta and Gallardo had been saved by their body armor,[12] however, and resumed their advance, firing and throwing hand grenades, until they reached Specialist Franklin Eckrode. Eckrode had been shot four times and was attempting to unjam his M249 machine gun.[9][8] While Gallardo, who later received a Silver Star for his actions, dressed Eckrode's wounds, Giunta continued to advance. Seeing three Taliban fighters, two of whom were attempting to carry away Brennan, Giunta pursued them over exposed ground firing his M4 Carbine, killing one (who was known as Mohammad Tali and considered a high-value target).[13][14] After reaching Brennan Giunta pulled him to cover and provided aid.[15]
I ran through fire to see what was going on with [Brennan] and maybe we could hide behind the same rock and shoot together ... He was still conscious. He was breathing. He was asking for morphine. I said, "You'll get out and tell your hero stories," and he was like, "I will, I will."[16]
Brennan did not survive surgery.[17] According to his father, Michael Brennan, "not only did [Giunta] save [my son] Josh ... He really saved half of the platoon."[18]
Giunta is now a Staff Sergeant. He was born in 1985--dang that makes me feel old.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:47 AM   #4
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Giunta is now a Staff Sergeant. He was born in 1985--dang that makes me feel old.
I could say something nice like old is a state of mind, but I won't. You are old .

I wonder if the Pentagon will let him go back to Afghanistan. My guess is after the Pat Tillman disaster, the poor guy won't be allowed to do anything more dangerous that handling nasty press interviews.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:51 AM   #5
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It's amazing what some people can do under pressure. I really lack the words to express my feelings about how this guy put other's lives ahead of his own.

But even stronger than that, the feeling that I had watching the interview was, what a shame it is that humans are put in these positions. Or as they say "War is Hell".

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Old 11-16-2010, 08:55 AM   #6
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The bravery of the US military never ceases to amaze me............
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:47 PM   #7
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These people are inspirational on so many levels.

When I was on active duty (USAF), I was fortunate enough to work with a guy who had spent nearly 6 years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. Not only was he totally squared away personally, but he was both completely competent at his job (both big picture and detail level) and also a totally nice, friendly person. I knew some of his story, and it never ceased to amaze me how he was able to return to normality so well.

I suppose some of it must be attributed to the extremely good shrinks who helped those guys readjust, but I honestly believe that much of it is simply the result of living in the U.S. military. We become so close to our co-workers, based on the total trust we must have in them, and the desire not to let them down, that the culture is something civilians have trouble understanding.

I'm a Vietnam vet (not a big deal), son of a WW II vet, and always felt as if I were part of an unbroken chain, going back to the American Revolution. It is indeed a humbling experience.

As long as I'm rambling, I should mention a fascinating conversation I had recently. I was sitting at the bar in a pizza place in Washington state, drinking a beer and waiting for my pizza. Got talking with the guy at the next stool, who was obviously from nearby Fort Lewis. He had been in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and told me that someone in his family had fought in every war the United States had ever been in, starting with his ancestor who had been part of Rogers' Rangers (you might call them the original Special Forces) back in the 18th century. That's remarkable enough, but he said that the family kept its military memorabilia, and he had a weapon from every one of those conflicts, from a musket up to the present. I'm long retired, but I felt like saluting him.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:22 PM   #8
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As long as I'm rambling, I should mention a fascinating conversation I had recently. I was sitting at the bar in a pizza place in Washington state, drinking a beer and waiting for my pizza. Got talking with the guy at the next stool, who was obviously from nearby Fort Lewis. He had been in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and told me that someone in his family had fought in every war the United States had ever been in, starting with his ancestor who had been part of Rogers' Rangers (you might call them the original Special Forces) back in the 18th century. That's remarkable enough, but he said that the family kept its military memorabilia, and he had a weapon from every one of those conflicts, from a musket up to the present. I'm long retired, but I felt like saluting him.
Well, I'm certainly impressed, also. I wonder if he was of Scottish (/Irish) ancestry. Sure sounds like it.

Born Fighting: How The Scots-Irish Shaped America
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Old 11-16-2010, 08:01 PM   #9
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These people are inspirational on so many levels.
When I was on active duty (USAF), I was fortunate enough to work with a guy who had spent nearly 6 years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. Not only was he totally squared away personally, but he was both completely competent at his job (both big picture and detail level) and also a totally nice, friendly person. I knew some of his story, and it never ceased to amaze me how he was able to return to normality so well.
I suppose some of it must be attributed to the extremely good shrinks who helped those guys readjust, but I honestly believe that much of it is simply the result of living in the U.S. military.
When we were USNA midshipmen, several Vietnam POWs were stationed there or were frequent visitors. One enduring memory I have in common with all of them was total unflappability. Not even irritability, let alone raised voices. There was wit, sarcastic humor, and even friendly insulting but it never turned dark or cynical or angry. They could be serious but they were almost always smiling. They must have found our oblivious quality-of-life complaints to be pretty silly.

I think these guys were teaching the shrinks.
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:45 PM   #10
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We need to develop resiliance training for all, not just our armed forces.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:11 PM   #11
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People here probably know this (I didn't)--those who earn the Medal of Honor receive some well-deserved benefits in appreciation, too: The 'perks' of a Medal of Honor - CNN

Quote:
The Department of Veterans Affairs gives them a $1,194 monthly pension. Plus there is a 10 percent increase in their retirement pay, provided it doesn't exceed the maximum allowed by law.
The recipients also get to fly on military aircraft at no cost, if there is space available, and they and their families can use military recreation facilities like pools, bowling allies and golf courses.
Recipients are also invited to all presidential inaugurations and the inauguration balls.
There are also less formal benefits.
For example, many military bases set aside a special parking space for Medal of Honor winners. There is an informal tradition that regardless of a service member's rank, even the top officers in the military salute them, rather than vice versa. And many states, including California, Iowa and Wisconsin, have special license plates that only a Medal of Honor recipient can put on his car, and some of those states waive the usual fees.
Each Medal of Honor recipient's child, if they qualify, can go to a military academy without having to worry about the quota for his or her state.
Finally, upon their death, a Medal of Honor recipient's grave is marked with a special headstone that bears the Medal of Honor symbol and special gold lettering to denote that service member's special status.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:20 PM   #12
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People here probably know this (I didn't)--those who earn the Medal of Honor receive some well-deserved benefits in appreciation, too: The 'perks' of a Medal of Honor - CNN

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For example, many military bases set aside a special parking space for Medal of Honor winners.
Someone needs to politely inform the CNN reporter that military members don't "win" medals. They receive medals, and are properly known as "recipients." It's a small thing, but significant.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:26 PM   #13
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Someone needs to politely inform the CNN reporter that military members don't "win" medals. They receive medals, and are properly known as "recipients." It's a small thing, but significant.
Wow, you have good eyes--that CNN article uses "recipients" nine times while "winners" slipped by the editor just the once, and you caught it!
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:38 PM   #14
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The Living Medal of Honor Recipients

I think schools should be named after them.
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:06 PM   #15
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Here is a very nice follow up story about Sgt Giunta and how he is handling the fame.

For those of you who read or saw the movie Flags of our Fathers the story the sounds hauntingly familiar.
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:40 AM   #16
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Well, I'm certainly impressed, also. I wonder if he was of Scottish (/Irish) ancestry. Sure sounds like it.

Born Fighting: How The Scots-Irish Shaped America
Settle for Scottish. Them Irish can only do car bombs.

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It: Amazon.ca: Arthur Herman: Books
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:36 AM   #17
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Excellent book, I highly recommend it... particularly to those of Scottish descent; including those that I was referring to -- those that had a brief stop in Northern Ireland on their way from Scotland to the New World. Those known in The United States as the Scots-Irish and in Europe as Ulster Scots.

From the Preface:

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People of Scottish descent are usually proud of their history and achievements. Yet even they know only the half of it.

They can recite many names and details in the familiar story of their people. "Braveheart" William Wallace and Robert the Bruce; the Arbroath Declaration and Mary Queen of Scots; Robert Burns and Bonnie Prince Charlie. They point out how James Watts invented the steam engine, John Boyd Dunlop the bicycle, and Alexander Fleming penicillin. Yet no one else seems to pay much attention. Scots often complain that Scotlan's place among nations deserves more exposure than it gets. But their complaints have an ironic, rather than a beseeching tone. They seem to take a perverse pride in being so consistently underestimated.
Other books that tell our story:

The Scottish 100: Portraits of History's Most Influential Scots. - One hundred short biographies are contained in this enticing illustrated celebration of seven centuries of Scottish and world history, featuring profiles of Robert the Bruce, John Paul Jones, John Knox, Andrew Carnegie, General Douglas MacArthur, Alexander Graham Bell, and many others

The Mark of the Scots: Their Astonishing Contributions to History, Science, Democracy, Literature, and the Arts - Celebrates the accomplishments of Scots and people of Scottish descent, from Immanuel Kant to Elvis Presley.

and, although quite old (1962):

The Scotch-Irish: a Social History -- Jackson traces the Scotch-Irish development from Lowland Scotland to Northern Ireland to the American colonies.

Oh! And there is this semi-fictional account of the settling of that part of the New World that became the United States:

Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America --It is a history of American folkways as they have changed through time, and it argues a thesis about the importance for the United States of having been British in its cultural origins.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:19 AM   #18
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Excellent book, I highly recommend it...
Humph. You call that a good book? Now here is a good book: Amazon.com: How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History) (9780385418492): Thomas Cahill: Books
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:30 AM   #19
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No argument from me on that (except for wanting another book part). Hey, we are all Celtic cousins.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:38 AM   #20
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