Living with Honor: A Memoir

“The President clasps the medal around my neck, and I can feel the weight of it now. We embrace for a moment—the president and me.

“Blinking back tears, I turn to face the audience, and applause fills the room. But I know it’s not for me alone.

“I look at my mom and dad. I look at Brennan’s parents, and I look at Mendoza’s.

“And I try to communicate to Brennan and Mendoza wordlessly:

“This is for you…and for everyone who has fought and died. For everyone who has made the ultimate sacrifice. I am not a hero. I’m just a soldier.

“I think they understand. I hope they do.”

Moving recollections from Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore “Sal” Giunta about the day he became the first living person to receive the Medal of Honor—the highest award presented by the U.S. military—since the conclusion of the Vietnam War.

In Living with Honor, this hero tells us the story of the terrible day in Afghanistan that led to a White House ceremony where President Obama draped the medal around his neck.

Here’s Giunta on TheBlaze TV’s Wilkow! show discussing his book and his experiences:

With candor, insight, and humility, Giunta recounts the harrowing events that led to him and his company falling under siege and illustrates the empowering, invaluable lessons he learned.

As a 17-year-old in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Giunta was like any other kid trying to figure out his next step after graduating from high school. When he walked into his hometown Army recruiting center, Giunta only wanted a free T-shirt. But when he walked out, his curiosity was piqued…and Giunta enlisted in the Army.

Deployed to Afghanistan, Giunta was stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Korengal Valley—also known as the “Valley of Death.” (Giunta called it “basically hell on earth.”)

Then came October 25, 2007—the day Giunta and his company, attempting a sting operation on the Taliban, were ambushed on a rugged mountain path by about 20 insurgents.

There was the sound of a single bullet…and then a barrage of gunfire and explosions. There were, literally, thousands of bullets in the air at once, and more tracers streaking across the sky than there were stars overhead. It was a miracle that most of us weren’t killed instantly.

When Giunta saw his squad leader fall, he charged toward him—exposing himself to blistering enemy fire—and covered his squad leader with his own body while administering first aid. Though Giunta was struck by bullets, he managed to engage the enemy and then attempted to reach additional wounded soldiers.

Then Giunta realized that yet another soldier was separated from his unit, so he advanced and discovered two rebels carrying away a U.S. soldier. Giunta killed one insurgent, wounded the other, and immediately provided aid to the injured soldier.

More than just a remarkable memoir by a remarkable person, Living with Honor is a powerful testament to the human spirit and all that one can achieve when faced with seemingly impossible obstacles.

Check out this report on Giunta’s Medal of Honor reception and the story behind his award: