The first living Medal of Honor winner since the Vietnam War tells his story.
For his conspicuous gallantry on October 25th, 2007, in Afghanistan’s dangerous Korengal Valley, 22-year-old Giunta received the military’s highest award for bravery. To hear him tell it, he did only what he was trained to do, no more than many others who behaved so courageously that day. With an assist from Layden (co-author, with Ace Frehley: No Regrets: A Rock ’n’ Roll Memoir, 2011, etc.), Giunta’s conversational narrative builds to the ambush on Honcho Hill that slaughtered two buddies and marked him as a hero. But then: “How can I be so great if I allowed two of my friends to get killed?” An indifferent Iowa schoolboy, Giunta was sitting in his high school chemistry class on 9/11. Two years later, at loggerheads with his father, he joined the Army looking for excitement. After two tours in Afghanistan, he found plenty, but he also acquired a well-earned, cruel brand of wisdom. Self-effacing throughout, unstinting in his praise of his fellow warriors, Giunta remarks on the difference between the exhilaration of combat and the tedium of war. He comments on the effects of adrenaline in battle, the underappreciated role of luck and timing, the emotional distance required to fight effectively, the shocking disposability of life and the decidedly atypical character traits that mark the combat soldier. Candid, confessional, sometimes politically incorrect, Giunta’s tale is at once mundane and remarkable. He has come to terms with the Medal of Honor, largely because he recognizes its inspirational effect on others, but he cannot recall the day he earned it without feeling sadness and loss, without shame that he somehow let down his brothers in battle.
A simply told account that reminds us of the awesome weight accompanying this signal honor.