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HIAWATHA, Iowa - Army Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Afghanistan in 2007.
During an ambush by insurgents, Giunta personally took on enemy fire to help save his men, and fought off attackers who were trying to drag away one soldier... his best friend.
It's never easy for parents to see a son or daughter go off to war. And Steve and Rosemary Giunta of Hiawatha were no different. But when their son, Sal, enlisted in the Army during his senior year at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School, they supported him all the way.
"I have a very strong belief that we do need young men in the service. And if my son chose to do this, I was very ok with that," said Rosemary Giunta.
"I had a peaceful heart about him being in battle, which is a very strange thing to say. It almost sounds cold or callous, but I just knew it was going to be ok," said Steve Giunta.
Sal has served two tours in Afghanistan. It was during the second tour, in 2007, that a call came to his parents signaling something had happened.
"He kind of let us know, Mom, I won't be calling you for a while because we're going back out. And he called, and it was just within a few days when he had called, and that told me that something was not right either."
Sal had just returned from the battle where his heroism and courage under fire would earn him the Medal of Honor... a battle that took the lives of two of his best friends.
"On that day I asked him what was going on 'cause I could tell, and he said we had a fight... and we lost Josh and we lost Hugo. And I said can you tell me about it, and he said, "No, I can't." He didn't give me any details."
Sal had risked his own life trying to save his buddies. His bravery earned him the military's highest honor, but it's also changed his life... creating new challenges and expectations for this Iowa native.
"I believe he's more than up to the task. And he'll rise to it, just as he did as a soldier. He'll rise to it because it's what's required of him. I have great comfort in that."