Obama to Award Medal of Honor to Living Soldier for First Time

President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, for the first time to a living service member from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the White House announced today.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta will be awarded the medal for “acts of gallantry at the risk of his life” during fighting in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2007. Obama called Giunta today to tell him of the award.

Six Medals of Honor have been awarded for service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, all of them posthumously.

Obama last year awarded one to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006 while trying to save a wounded comrade.

More than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded since Congress authorized them in 1861.

Giunta was cited for exposing himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade to a covered position and then preventing two insurgents from capturing an American paratrooper.

“His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands,” the White House statement said.