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Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta tells his story

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta is the first living soldier from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan to be chosen to receive the Medal of Honor. Here's his story of what happened that day in Afghanistan.

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US Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta is the first living Medal of Honor recipient for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

US Army/Newscom

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Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta recently became the first living soldier from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan to be chosen to receive the Medal of Honor, America's highest award for valor. He spoke Wednesday to Pentagon reporters about the night of the attack, in which his “extraordinary bravery” in battle, according to the White House, brought him to the attention of the nation.

Still, he contends, “In this job, I am only mediocre. I’m average.

"This was a situation that we were put into,” he says via a live video feed from Italy, where he is now stationed. “I was just one brush stroke in that picture, and everyone else was one brush stroke in that picture. And what I wasn’t the first brush stroke of that picture, and it wasn’t the last brush stroke in that picture, and it wasn’t the best, it was just another brush stroke that helped, you know, complete this picture.”

Here, in his own words, is his tale.

A day like any other, at first

The day began like any other day for a US soldier in Afghanistan, says Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta. His platoon was out on a multiday mission in the violent and rugged Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan. It’s an area the US military has since pulled out of, after deciding that the relatively low population density didn’t merit the heavy toll it was taking on the American soldiers who were serving at the small, vulnerable outposts there.

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