Most Americans can name the contestants on the hit show "American Idol," but very few can name even one of the eight men who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic actions in battle since 9/11.
This week I'm delighted to see that one more is being added to their numbers. This one is especially sweet for two reasons, the first being that SFC Leroy A. Petry is still alive, since most medals of this kind are awarded posthumously.
Secondly, SFC Petry is a Ranger with the 75th Ranger Regiment, where I myself served two decades ago.
Ranger Petry was on a rare daylight mission in Afghanistan to capture a high-level Taliban warlord when he was shot through ;both legs. He continued to fight, however, saving the lives of several of his men.
Then a grenade was thrown and landed nearby, and would likely have killed them all, but for quick thinking and selfless action on the part of Ranger Petry. He grabbed the live grenade and threw it away from his men, whereupon it detonated, blowing Petry's hand off.
Even still, the wounded man and his comrades continued to fight until he was eventually recovered.
Petry would be the first to say, however, that he would gladly give up the award if it would bring back his teammate, Spc. Christopher Gathercole, who was killed in the same engagement.
Leroy Petry will live the rest of his life as a hero to the nation, but heroes bear the great burden of those who did not come home.
Our congratulations, and prayers go out to this man, who has certainly proved the Ranger Motto: Rangers Lead the Way.