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Sgt. Joshua Brennan 25 OCT 2-503 BCO

Image by US Army Africa
Sgt. Joshua Brennan

U.S. Army photo

When enemy forces in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley ambushed then-Spc. Giunta’s platoon on the evening of Oct. 25, 2007, the infantry team leader braved heavy enemy fire to rescue fellow paratroopers.

Giunta, of Organization B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, will be awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest award for valor below fire.

The Hiawatha, Iowa-native is the first living service member to earn the award considering that Vietnam. The medal will be presented in a ceremony at a date and time nevertheless to be determined.

A 2003 graduate of Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School, Giunta has served two tours of Afghanistan. Now a staff sergeant serving in Vicenza, Italy, Giunta of Hiawatha, Iowa, knew of the nomination many months ago, but the announcement nevertheless came as a shock.

“This is a excellent honor, but it is not mine to take sole ownership of. I only did the next factor that necessary to be completed, and I was only capable to do that simply because all of the guys around me had the rest taken care of. It’s challenging to take credit for basically taking the subsequent step when so numerous steps had currently been taken by every person else,” Giunta said.

Not a day goes by that Giunta, now a employees sergeant serving at Vicenza’s Caserma Ederle, does not recall what he and fellow paratroopers faced that evening.

The initial platoon of Business B – known to 173rd paratroopers as “Battle Company” – had been heading back to their base camp in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley following a extended day watching over fellow paratroopers in an Afghan village. It was the final day of Operation Rock Avalanche. All through the day, enemy radio intercepts spoke of an impending attack.

Evening was approaching as Giunta’s platoon stretched in to a snaking file down the spur to the Korengal outpost. Roughly thirty paces separated each paratrooper as the moved out.

Sgt. Joshua Brennan, a 22-year-old team leader from Ontario, Ore., on his second tour in Afghanistan, was up front. Behind Brennan, manning an M249 squad automatic weapon, was Spc. Frank Eckrode then squad leader, Employees Sgt. Erick Gallardo, 24, Chula Vista, Calif.

AH-64 Apache helicopters chopped the moonlit evening above as the platoon created their way down goat trails.

Giunta, who carried an M-4 assault rifle was just behind with his group. Pfc. Kaleb Casey carried his M249 squad automatic weapon, followed by Pfc. Garrett Clary with an M203, a five.56 mm rifle combined with a 40 millimeter grenade launcher.

Along their path, much more than a dozen enemy fighters waited, readying their Russian-style rocket propelled grenades, PKM 7.62 mm heavy machine guns, and Kalishnikov rifles. They had set up an L-shape, with an RPG and PKM at the apex of the formation. As Brennan walked just 30 feet from their over watch position, the enemy open fired.

An enemy RPG exploded, followed by a burst of machine gun fire. Brennan fell to the ground. Machine guns fired at the platoon’s flank. Eckrode was hit. He dropped to the ground, returned fire and tried to discover cover.

Gallardo tried to run forward, but was met with RPG explosions and sustained machine gun fire. He returned fire and started back to Giunta’s position, falling into a ditch as an AK-47 round struck his helmet. Giunta jumped up, exposing himself to deadly fire, to help his squad leader.

Giunta ran just a handful of measures when two enemy AK-47 rounds struck his body. The 1st shot hit the physique armor on Giunta’s chest, the second hit more than his left shoulder, striking a disposable rocket launcher strapped to his rucksack. But Giunta kept going, reaching Gallardo and dragging him back to exactly where Giunta’s fire team had begun fighting back.

Gallardo got Giunta’s team online and the 4 paratroopers began bounding by means of withering enemy fire to rescue Eckrode and Brennan. Dropping for cover, they ready fragmentation grenades to throw at the enemy to cover their next move. Casey continued to fire his machine gun at enemy muzzle flashes, significantly less than a half city block away. Gallardo counted to three and the team hurled grenades toward enemy positions. As soon as they heard the explosions, they moved closer to their wounded comrades.

Eckrode referred to as out. He was wounded, but still trying to fight. Gallardo started very first help on Eckrode even though Casey, who located a bullet hole in his uniform, scanned for enemy targets.

Giunta and Clary kept running toward where Brennan fell, only to find two enemy fighters carrying a severely-wounded Brennan away. Although still operating, Giunta fired his assault rifle, causing them to drop Brennan and flee. Giunta emptied the rest of his magazine, killing one enemy. Giunta knelt down to help Brennan as Clary ran past, firing 40-milimeter rounds toward the retreating enemy.

Giunta saw Brennan’s injuries have been severe and required far more than he could provide there on the battlefield. He removed Brennan’s gear and began treating his buddy, while calling back to Gallardo for assist. Brennan was trying to talk. Giunta reassured his pal as he tended to Brennan’s wounds.

Other paratroopers from the platoon have been also wounded. Spc. Hugo Mendoza, was killed. Brennan, who was hoisted into a helicopter, later succumbed to his wounds.

“Giunta is a great friend and an outstanding paratrooper,” said Gallardo, now serving with Battle Firm in Afghanistan. “His actions that day meant the distinction in between life and death to myself and other Soldiers. For that I am grateful.”

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