Army Rangers Recount Tale of Medal of Honor Recipient's Heroic Act
By James Rosen
Published June 09, 2011
When Army Sergeant First Class Leroy A. Petry receives the Medal of Honor from President Obama next month, the Santa Fe resident will have to make sure the batteries are recharged for the prosthetic right hand he extends to friends and strangers alike.
Although custom prohibits medal winners from speaking publicly in advance of their receipt of the honor, three of Petry’s Army Ranger comrades held a news conference in Seattle Thursday to recount his extraordinary heroism and selfless sacrifice in the line of duty.
“You see heroes a lot in the combat zone,” said 1st Sergeant Steven Walter, an officer who served with Petry, “but this stuck out because he absolutely saved lives.”
On the afternoon of May 26, 2008, then-Staff Sergeant Petry was the senior non-commissioned officer on site in Paktia province, about sixty miles south of Kabul, as the 75th Ranger Regiment conducted a daytime helicopter assault on a set of buildings believed to house a dozen or more terrorists. Petry did not have to be present for the raid with his fellow soldiers, but “saw that they needed help and made a conscious decision to go in there,” recalled Sergeant First Class Jerod Staidle.
The outer structures were easily cleared, and the Rangers zeroed in on the targeted building. Petry and Private First Class Lucas Robinson were moving from an inner courtyard area to an outer one when two terrorists, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, opened fire. Robinson was hit in his side plate. A separate round struck Petry and penetrated each of his legs.
At that point, the two struggled to take cover behind a chicken coop situated to the northwest of the targeted building. A third man, Sergeant Daniel Higgins, ran to join them, while the wounded Petry managed to lob a grenade at their attackers.