EXCLUSIVE: Sgt. Guinta Talks About Medal Of Honor

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By Richard Pratt

An Eastern Iowa Soldier is receiving the Medal of Honor, and he spoke to TV9 in his first interview since he was honored with the nation's highest military award.

Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta grew up in Hiawatha. He earned the Medal of Honor for his 2007 service in Afghanistan.

Insurgents attacked his squad, cutting it in two. As rifle team leader, Giunta exposed himself to enemy fire so he could pull one soldier back to cover. He also shot two insurgents after seeing them try to carry away another U.S. soldier.

In a TV9 exclusive, Giunta reacted to becoming the first living member of the U.S. military to win the Medal of Honor for service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

In an exclusive interview with TV9, Giunta says he's honored to receive such an award.

"I definitely can't believe I'm going to be one of them. I mean, Medal of Honor recipients, that's one of those guys you want to meet. Like -- I still want to --- I just want to buy them a beer at the bar and sit next to them, if they want to talk, that'd be great. It's a huge honor, huge honor. I'm still at a loss for words, don't know how to take it."

On Thursday, President Obama called Giunta to congratulate and thank him for his service and extraordinary bravery in battle.

Giunta earned the Medal of Honor for his 2007 service in Afghanistan.

Insurgents attacked his squad, cutting it in two. As rifle team leader, Giunta exposed himself to enemy fire so he could pull one soldier back to cover. He also shot two insurgents after seeing them try to carry away another U.S. soldier.

He's a true hero... and he's made people back here in eastern Iowa very proud, including his parents.

On Saturday, Rose and Steve Giunta talked about their son. They remembered the Cedar Rapids Kennedy grad as a bit of a handful as a teen. But that all changed when he entered the service.

"He lived life kind of fast and he really found his niche when he got into the Army," said his father, Steve Guinta. "in serving his country he found an outlet for all his energy and turned it into something positive."

Both parents say they didn't hear many details of that ambush and when their son finally told the story...he told it once and asked them not to ask questions.

The two spoke with Sal after the President's phone call. They say he believes he did nothing any other soldier wouldn't have done in similar circumstances.

Giunta will formally receive the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. That date has not yet been set.

Giunta will become the 109th Iowan to receive a Medal of Honor since its inception during the Civil War.

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