Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry Presented With Medal of Honor for Bravery in Afghanistan

by 9 years ago

Here's this American badass discussing the battle in his own words. Via the Army Times:

During his last mission, Petry was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured. There, he was to serve as the senior noncommissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation.

But things quickly got dangerous for Petry and his team. Insurgents opened fire on Petry and his men.

Petry had fellow Ranger Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson at his side. The two were to clear the outer courtyard of the target building. It was there the two first saw the enemy.

“I remember seeing the guy out of my peripheral vision,” Petry said. “Two guys with AKs at their hip, just spraying. And one happened to strike me right in the thighs. I didn't know I was hit in both thighs, but it hit my left thigh.”

Robinson was also hit, Petry said. “He was struck right in his ribcage on his left side and he continued along and followed behind me.”

While wounded and under enemy fire, Petry led Robinson to the cover of a chicken coop in the courtyard. The enemy continued to deliver fire at the two Soldiers.

Petry reported contact was made with the enemy, and as a result, team member Sgt. Daniel Higgins moved to the outer courtyard. As Higgins moved toward the chicken coop to meet with the two wounded Soldiers, Petry threw a thermobaric grenade toward the enemy. That explosion caused a lull in enemy fire.

As Higgins evaluated the wounds of both Petry and Robinsion, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop. The grenade landed about 10 meters from the three Rangers, knocked them to the ground, and wounded Higgins and Robinson.

With three Soldiers taking cover in the coop, an insurgent threw yet another grenade. This time, the grenade landed just a few feet from the three Soldiers — much closer than the earlier grenade.

“It was almost instinct — off training,” Petry said of his response to the situation. “It was probably going to kill all three of us. I had time to visually see the hand grenade. And I figure it's got about a four-and-half second fuse, depending on how long it has been in the elements and the weather and everything and how long the pin has been pulled. I figure if you have time to see it you have time to kick it, throw it, just get it out there.”

That's when Petry picked up the grenade and threw it away from him and his buddies. As it turns out, he did have the time to save all three of their lives — but not time to save his hand.

The grenade exploded as he threw it — destroying his throwing arm.

“I actually didn't think it was going to go off,” Petry said. “I didn't really feel much pain. I didn't know it had gone off and taken my hand until I sat back up and saw it was completely amputated at the wrist.”

Petry put a tourniquet on his now severed arm, to prevent further blood loss. That was something he said he knew how to do as a result of good Army training. Then he had to focus on those around him.

“The younger guys next to me were kind of still in shock and awe,” Petry said, and he tasked himself do what it is that makes Americans marvel at their Soldiers. “Maintaining control, maintaining awareness, trying to remain calm — so they stay calm.”

He radioed for help — but the fighting wasn't over. Staff Sgt. James Roberts engaged the enemy and was able to suppress their fire. But another insurgent began firing, and fatally wounded Spc. Christopher Gathercole. Higgins and Robinson returned fire and killed the enemy.

Moments later, Sgt. 1st Class Jerod Staidle, the platoon sergeant, and Spc. Gary Depriest, the platoon medic, arrived in the outer courtyard. After directing Depriest to treat Gathercole, Staidle moved to Petry' s position. Staidle and Higgins then assisted Petry as he moved to the casualty collection point.

Within a week, he'd be back in the United States.

A true American hero. This man has balls bigger than coconuts. You know what only makes it better? Thanks to a prosthesis, he was able to re-enlisted in the Army last year. Just makes us gush patriotism. Here's his official MOH citation, via:

On May 26, 2008, Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry, as a member of a Ranger helicopter assault force conducting a daylight rotary wing raid in the vicinity of Paktya, Afghanistan, distinguished himself conspicuously and with gallantry and intrepidness, by risking his life above and beyond the call of duty, during an extremely close and violent engagement with an extraordinarily determined and well armed enemy. During the initial engagement, Staff Sergeant Petry was shot through both legs and another Ranger was hit by enemy fire. Shortly thereafter, an enemy hand grenade landed amid Staff Sergeant Petry and two other Rangers; despite his serious leg wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry unhesitatingly moved to the grenade, grabbed it, and immediately threw the armed grenade away from his fellow Rangers. The grenade detonated shortly after Staff Sergeant Petry threw it away from his fellow Rangers resulting in a catastrophic amputation of his right hand and multiple shrapnel wounds penetrating his body. This deliberate individual act of heroism by Staff Sergeant Petry saved the lives of his fellow comrades and allowed the completion of the mission.

The helicopter assault force was committed to execute a rare daylight raid to accomplish the mission based on the high value of the target and its fleeting nature. Soldiers and helicopter assets were exposed to unusual risk by landing within small arms range of confirmed enemy forces. At 1334z. on May 26, 2008, the assault force began to clear the objective area. Sergeant Petry's task was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured and serve as the senior Non-Commissioned at that site for the remainder of the operation. Recognizing one of the assault squads needed assistance clearing their assigned building, Staff Sergeant Petry relayed to the Platoon Leader that he was moving to the squad to provide additional supervision and guidance during the clearance of the building. Once the residential portion of the building had been cleared, Staff Sergeant Petry took a member of the assault squad, Private First Class Lucas Robinson, to clear the outer courtyard knowing it had not been cleared during the initial clearance. Both Rangers moved into an area of the compound that contained at least three enemy fighters that were prepared to engage friendly forces from opposite ends of the outer courtyard. Staff Sergeant Petry and Private First Class Robinson entered the courtyard and immediately to their front was an opening followed by a small chicken coop. As they moved to cross the open area before the chicken coop, an enemy insurgent accurately engaged them with AK-47 fire from an approximate range of 10 meters. Staff Sergeant Petry was wounded by one round, which went through both of his legs, and Private First Class Robinson was hit in his side plate by a separate round. While wounded and under accurate enemy fire, Staff Sergeant Petry led Private First Class Robinson to the cover of the chicken coop. The enemy continued to deliver accurate sustained fire in the vicinity of the chicken coop as Staff Sergeant Petry rapidly assessed the situation and reported that contact was made and that there were two wounded Rangers in the courtyard of the primary target building.

Upon hearing the report of two wounded Rangers, Sergeant Daniel Higgins, a team leader, immediately moved to the outer courtyard. As Sergeant Higgins was moving to Staff Sergeant Petry's and Private First Class Robinson's position, Staff Sergeant Petry threw a thermobaric grenade in the vicinity of the enemy position. Shortly after the grenade exploded, which created a lull in the enemy fire, Sergeant Higgins arrived at their position and began assessing their wounds. While Sergeant Higgins was evaluating the severity of their wounds, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop at the three Rangers. The grenade landed approximately ten meters from the three Rangers, knocked them to the ground, and wounded Sergeant Higgins and Private First Class Robinson. Shortly after the grenade exploded, Staff Sergeant James Roberts and Specialist Christopher Gathercole entered the courtyard moving towards the contact. Staff Sergeant Petry, Sergeant Higgins, and Private First Class Robinson were still grouped together on the side of the chicken coop when another grenade landed a few feet from Sergeant Higgins and Private First Class Robinson. Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Staff Sergeant Petry, despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety, consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away his fellow Rangers, removing the immediate threat to their lives. As Staff Sergeant Petty released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Sergeant Higgins and Private First Class Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated Staff Sergeant Petry's right hand. With a clear mind, Staff Sergeant Petry assessed his wound and quickly placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete he reported that he was still in contact and that he had been wounded again.

Staff Sergeant Petry's selfless and conspicuous gallantry during daylight hours of May 26, 2008 undeniably risked his life while saving the lives of two fellow Rangers and through great individual sacrifice and personal intrepidness enabled the assault force to accomplish its mission. His actions epitomize the Army's Warrior Spirit and have brought great credit to the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Here's the full 18-minute video of the White House presentation, including President Obama's remarks:

Here at BroBible, today we toast and gratefully salute you, Sgt. Petry, for your bravery in the face of battle and all you've overcome since. It's truly inspirational.

H/T: High Definite

Brandon Wenerd is BroBible's publisher and founding partner, overseeing partnerships and content on all channels in Los Angeles. A graduate of Penn State, he loves live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. He can be reached at

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