Esprit de Corps …

Posted on July 15, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental, Searching for Success |

By Gem KM Bhimaya

Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta was a 22-year-old Rifle Team leader, deployed in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. He was the only living recipient (according to the U.S. Army tradition, a gallant soldier only receives, never wins, an award) of the Congressional Medal of Honor, since the Vietnam war.

In October 2007, he saved one of his buddies, and retrieved another wounded rifleman who had been captured by the insurgents during an ambush. He belonged to the famous 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army (7700 decorations, including over 6000 purple hearts.

During my intelligence course in Okinawa (1964), I had an opportunity to observe this formation at close quarters as they were billeted by our B.O. Qs (Bachelor Officers’ Quarters). They were smart, and impeccable in their dress and deportment. They usually hung out with their buddies.

Salvatore Giunta separated from the Army in 2011 to pursue higher college studies (part of G.I. bill). In 2017, Ex- Staff Sergeant did something unique: He returned the coveted medal of honor to his parent Unit: 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team,

While returning the award, he honored his promise implicit in his brief speech at the White House star-studded investiture ceremony, a few years ago.

“If I’m a hero, every man that stands around me, every woman, in the military, everyone who goes into the unknown is a hero; so, if you think that that’s a hero — as long as you include everyone with me,” Giunta said at a Pentagon briefing in September 2010.”

When he returned the highest gallantry award to his Unit, Salvatore Giunta was, at his best, proud esprit-de-corps in action.

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