Shortly after nightfall on October 25, 2007 in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan Giunta and his platoon were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated force of Taliban insurgents. In his Medal of Honor citation it states, “Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy”. The citation continues, “Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground”. Staff Sergeant Larry Rougle was killed and two other infantrymen wounded in the attack.
Giunta received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on November 16, 2010 before Congress in Washington, D.C. Since the beginning of World War II, only 862 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Over half that number died in their moment of heroism. Only 331 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from Pearl Harbor to the Global War on Terrorism have survived to actually wear the Medal. Today only 81 of them are still with us. Guinta is the youngest service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
The Giunta Medal of Honor event was part of the dinner presentation series sponsored by the investment firm Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney. Nearly 50 Newport Harbor Post 291 officers and members along with numerous Morgan Stanley staff members and clients were held in silence as Giunta relayed the details of his heroic actions. He closed by saying, “There were more bullets in the air than stars in the sky. A wall of bullets at every one at the same time with one crack and then a million other cracks afterwards. They’re above you, in front of you, behind you, below you. They’re hitting in the dirt early. They’re going over your head. Just all over the place. They were close—as close as I’ve ever seen”.
An unforgettable night of honor, bravery and heroism.