Sal Giunta, recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat in 2007 in Afghanistan, is the featured speaker at the James and Coralie Centofanti Symposium, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Stambaugh Auditorium, Youngstown.
Giunta, the first living service member to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, will present “Uncommon Valor: The Importance of Teamwork, Sacrifice and Leadership.” Tickets are free and can be picked up at the Stambaugh Box Office during regular business hours. For more information, call 330-941-2136
Salvatore “Sal” Augustine Giunta, born on Jan. 21, 1985 in Clinton, Iowa, enlisted and joined the Army in November 2003. He was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy, in 2004. Promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant in 2009, Giunta completed two combat tours to Afghanistan totaling 27 months of deployment.
On Oct. 25, 2007, Giunta and his team were navigating through Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley when they were ambushed by an insurgent force. While under heavy enemy fire, Giunta sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Giunta raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers, Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.
Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony on Nov. 16, 2010. Giunta was the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan, the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War and the eighth service member to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for valor in Iraq and Afghanistan. His other military decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal w/oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal to name a few. He retired from the Army in June 2011 and is the author of Living with Honor. He currently resides in Colorado with his wife, Jennifer Giunta, and his daughter.