Soldier Who Tackled Suicide Bomber Awarded U.S. Medal of Honor

  • Ambush in Asadabad, Afghanistan, killed four and wounded 16
  • Captain Florent Groberg suffered leg injury in 2012 attack

An Army captain who helped tackle a suicide bomber, saving colleagues from an ambush in Afghanistan, received the nation’s highest military honor at a White House ceremony.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that Captain Florent Groberg acted selflessly in confronting the bomber and awarded him the Medal of Honor. Groberg, who suffered severe injuries to his left leg and a brain injury in the 2012 attack, was medically retired from the Army in June.

Groberg, a French native who is 32, commanded a personal security detachment protecting senior Afghan and U.S. military leaders. His group of about 28 personnel was attacked on Aug. 8, 2012, while walking from a U.S. base in Asadabad, Afghanistan, to the provincial governor’s headquarters for a weekly security meeting.

"On his very worst day he managed to summon his very best. That’s the nature of courage," Obama said at a ceremony for Groberg.

Groberg spotted a suicide bomber during the attack, and with the assistance of Sergeant Andrew Mahoney, grappled with the man and forced him to the ground, according to an account by the Army. When the bomber’s explosive vest detonated, a second suicide bomber hiding nearby prematurely triggered his own blast.

"Groberg’s actions disrupted both bombers from detonating as planned, saving the majority of lives he was charged with protecting," the Army said.

Four men died in the attack including an Army major and an Air Force major. Groberg, a former track athlete at the University of Maryland, has undergone 33 surgeries on his wounded leg, Obama said.

"His actions prevented an even greater catastrophe," Obama said. "He showed his guts, he showed his training; how to put it all on the line for his teammates."

Groberg’s family moved to Bethesda, Maryland, when he was a child, and he became a naturalized citizen in 2001. He is the 10th survivor of the Afghanistan war to receive a Medal of Honor.

More than 2,200 Americans have died in the war in Afghanistan, including more than 1,800 killed in action, as of Oct. 15, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Obama has given up on his goal of removing all but a small contingent of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the time he leaves office. The president announced last month that he’ll keep 9,800 U.S. military personnel in the country through much of next year and that 5,500 will still be there when he leaves office in 2017.

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