U.S. President Barack Obama is awarding the Medal of Honor Tuesday to an Army Ranger who protected fellow troops from a grenade attack in Afghanistan.
Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry is the second living person to receive the honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Petry lost his right hand when he threw a live grenade away from two of his fellow soldiers during combat in Afghanistan in May 2008.
The White House says Petry is receiving the award for his “courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy.” It says the meritorious conduct of a recipient must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice and must have involved risk of life.
After it was announced Petry would receive the award, the 31-year-old said it was “very humbling” to know that his colleagues thought that much of him and his actions to nominate him.
Since enlisting in the Army in 1999, Petry has been deployed twice to Iraq and six times to Afghanistan. The married father of four now works as a liaison officer at Fort Benning in Georgia and provides oversight to wounded servicemembers and their families.
A robotic prosthetic hand has helped him overcome his injury. Petry told the Army News Service that it “feels great” to shake people’s hands.
Petry is the ninth service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only other living soldier to receive the honor for those conflicts was Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, who was cited last year for heroism in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Rangers are elite soldiers who are trained to parachute into combat, can operate in deserts or swamps and have specialized skills needed to fight in mountains.