Salvatore A. Giunta (born January 21, 1985) is a soldier in the United States Army who will be the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor. He will receive the award for actions in the War in Afghanistan in 2007.
Born in Clinton, Iowa, on January 21, 1985, Giunta grew up in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. His parents Steve, a medical equipment technician, and Rose, a preschool teacher, live in Hiawatha. He has two younger siblings, a brother Mario and sister Katie. Giunta attended John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids and enlisted in the Army in November 2003. He and his wife Jennifer, a native of Dubuque, were married in October 2007 after dating for several years.
Giunta attended basic training and infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was first deployed to Afghanistan from March 2005 until March 2006, while his second tour lasted from May 2007 until July 2008. Giunta was promoted to staff sergeant in August 2009 and is currently stationed at Caserma Ederle, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team's base near Vicenza, Italy. He works in a support role for members of the 173rd Airborne who are currently deployed in Afghanistan.
In October 2007, Giunta's eight-man squad was moving in bright moonlight along a wooded ridgeline in the Korangal Valley when at least a dozen Taliban fighters mounted an ambush that was coordinated from three sides at such close range that close air support could not be provided to Giunta's unit. Sergeant Josh Brennan, who was walking point, suffered at least 6 gunshot wounds. Giunta, then a specialist, was the fourth soldier back and was shot in the chest but was saved by his ballistic vest. Another bullet destroyed a weapon slung over his back. Moving, firing and throwing hand grenades, Giunta advanced up the trail to assist Staff Sergeant Erick Gallardo and, later, Specialist Franklin Eckrode, whose M249 machine gun had jammed and who was badly wounded. Continuing up the trail, Giunta saw two Taliban fighters, one of whom was Mohammad Tali (considered a high-value target), dragging Brennan down the hillside and towards the forest. Giunta attacked the insurgents with his M4 carbine, killing Tali, and ran to Brennan to provide cover and comfort until relief arrived.
Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007. When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta's squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. 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.