|Leroy Arthur Petry|
Petry in 2011
|Birth name||Leroy Arthur Petry|
29 July 1979 |
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1999 – 2014|
|Unit||2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment|
|Awards|| Medal of Honor
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Leroy Arthur Petry (born 29 July 1979) is a retired United States Army soldier and recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for actions in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Petry had an active youth, and joined the Army after high school. Completing the Ranger Indoctrination Program, he saw extensive deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. On 26 May 2008 during his seventh deployment, Petry was a member of a team on a mission to capture a Taliban target in Paktia Province. Despite being wounded in both legs by gunfire, Petry continued to fight and give orders. When a grenade landed between him and two other soldiers, Petry grabbed it and attempted to throw it away from them when it exploded, saving the soldiers' lives but severing his right hand.
Petry, who now wears a prosthesis, became the second recent living recipient of the medal for the war in Afghanistan when he received the award from U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011. Opting to reenlist in spite of his wounds, Petry remained on active duty in the U.S. Army until his retirement on 29 July 2014.
Early life and education
Petry was born on 29 July 1979, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Larry Petry and Lorella Tapia Petry. In his youth he was described as very active and likable by his friends and family. He is the third of five sons, with older brothers Larry Armando and Lloyd, and younger brothers Lyndon and Lincoln. Petry attended Santa Fe High School but was a poor student and had to repeat his freshman year. As a sophomore, he transferred to St. Catherine Indian School, a private school in Santa Fe, where his academic performance substantially improved. Growing up, Petry was active in a number of activities including football and basketball, and he also enjoyed fixing cars and cooking in his spare time. He graduated in 1998; his was the last class to graduate from St. Catherine before its closure. He spent the next year studying at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He also worked at the vehicle maintenance department of Pecos Public Transportation with his father and grandfather, and made signs at a local business, Al's Signs.
Influenced by a cousin who joined the U.S. Army Rangers, Petry enlisted in the Army in Santa Fe in September 1999 and also became a Ranger. He attended Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the time of the September 11th attacks he was in the process of training to become a Ranger.
Upon completion of his training, Petry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington state. Petry saw a total of eight deployments: two supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and six supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. In all, Petry had spent a total of 28 months deployed. During his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petry served in a number of positions including as a grenadier, squad automatic rifleman, fireteam leader, squad leader, operations sergeant, and a weapons squad leader.
Medal of Honor
On 26 May 2008, Staff Sergeant Petry and his unit were on a mission in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, which was on a daylight raid to capture a high-value target from the Taliban. Petry was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured. Once there, he was to serve as the senior noncommissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation. The operation involved about 70 Rangers, who encountered about 40 Taliban, 12 of them armed. Almost immediately after getting out of the helicopters that delivered the unit to the attack site, the Rangers came under strong fire. Petry provided additional supervision to an assaulting squad during the clearance of a building, and afterward he took Private First Class Lucas Robinson to clear the outer courtyard that had not yet been cleared.
Three Taliban fighters were in the courtyard, which had a chicken coop within it. The Taliban fired on Petry and Robinson; Petry was wounded by one round which went through both his legs, and Robinson was wounded, being hit on the armor plate protecting his side. Petry led Robinson to the cover of the chicken coop and reported the contact and their wounded condition. Petry threw a thermobaric grenade from cover. There at the chicken coop, they were joined by Sergeant Daniel Higgins, who assessed the wounds of the two soldiers.
A Taliban fighter threw a grenade at their position which landed 10 meters from them; it detonated, and the blast knocked the three soldiers to the ground, wounding Higgins, and further wounding Robinson. Shortly thereafter the three were joined by Staff Sergeant James Roberts and Specialist Christopher Gathercole. Another grenade was thrown by a Taliban fighter which landed a few feet from Higgins and Robinson. Petry, knowing the risk to his life, moved toward the grenade, picked it up, and attempted to throw it in the direction of the Taliban. Petry later recalled his immediate reaction was "get it out of here, get it away from the guys and myself. And I reached over, leaned over to the right, grabbed it with my hand, and I threw it as hard as I could, what I thought was at the time. And as soon as I opened my hand to let it go, it just exploded instantly. And I came back, and the hand was completely severed off." The detonation amputated his right hand, and sprayed his body with shrapnel. In throwing the grenade away, Petry likely saved the two other soldiers from serious injury or death.
Petry placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Roberts began to fire at the Taliban fighters, suppressing them in the courtyard. An additional fighter on the east end of the courtyard fired, fatally wounding Gathercole. Higgins and Robinson returned fire, killing that fighter. They were then joined by Sergeant First Class Jerod Staidle, the platoon sergeant, and Specialist Gary Depriest, a medic. Directing the medic to treat Gathercole, Petry was assisted by Staide and Higgins to the casualty collection point.
Return to service
Petry's wounds resulted in the loss of his right arm below the elbow. He was evacuated to an American hospital in Germany, where he spent several weeks in recovery before being transferred to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas. He now uses an advanced prosthetic in place of his right hand. On the prosthetic is a small plaque listing the names of the fallen Rangers of his regiment. After recovering, Petry did not seek a medical discharge; instead, he deployed to Afghanistan between recovering and receiving the Medal of Honor. He was later promoted to the rank of sergeant first class.
Petry received the Medal of Honor from U.S. President Barack Obama on 12 July 2011 in a ceremony at the White House. He was the second living recipient of the medal, after Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, for actions occurring after the Vietnam War, and the ninth recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Giunta was in attendance at the awarding ceremony. Petry later attended the Medal of Honor ceremony of the third living recipient of the medal since Vietnam, U.S. Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer in 2011. Following this award, Petry made a long string of appearances on talk shows and other gatherings, starting with Good Morning America. In his spare time, he took to staying active, and has learned to golf, hunt, water ski, and drive all terrain vehicles with his prosthetic hand. He received several honors; in late 2012, a statue of Petry was constructed in Pojoaque, New Mexico to honor his accomplishments.
In 2010, Petry re-enlisted in the U.S. Army for an indefinite term of service. Petry was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, where he served as a liaison officer for United States Special Operations Command's Care Coalition Northwest Region. He assisted ill and injured Rangers as well as their families. In 2011, Petry also began attending Pierce College, pursuing a bachelor of science degree in business management.
Although initially wanting to complete twenty years of active duty service, due to medical and "psychological issues", Petry decided to seek medical retirement. On 23 July 2014, Petry was promoted to Master Sergeant and was awarded the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony as well as being inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Maurice. He officially retired from the United States Army after nearly 15 years of service on 29 July 2014.
Awards and decorations
Medal of Honor citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the vicinity of Paktya Province, Afghanistan, on 26 May 2008. As a Weapons Squad Leader with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Staff Sergeant Petry moved to clear the courtyard of a house that potentially contained high-value combatants. While crossing the courtyard, Staff Sergeant Petry and another Ranger were engaged and wounded by automatic weapons fire from enemy fighters. Still under enemy fire, and wounded in both legs, Staff Sergeant Petry led the other Ranger to cover. He then reported the situation and engaged the enemy with a hand grenade, providing suppression as another Ranger moved to his position. The enemy quickly responded by maneuvering closer and throwing grenades. The first grenade explosion knocked his two fellow Rangers to the ground and wounded both with shrapnel. A second grenade then landed only a few feet away from them. Instantly realizing the danger, Staff Sergeant Petry, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, deliberately and selflessly moved forward, picked up the grenade, and in an effort to clear the immediate threat, threw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers. As he was releasing the grenade it detonated, amputating his right hand at the wrist and further injuring him with multiple shrapnel wounds. Although picking up and throwing the live grenade grievously wounded Staff Sergeant Petry, his gallant act undeniably saved his fellow Rangers from being severely wounded or killed. Despite the severity of his wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry continued to maintain the presence of mind to place a tourniquet on his right wrist before communicating the situation by radio in order to coordinate support for himself and his fellow wounded Rangers. Staff Sergeant Petry's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the United States Army.
Petry and his wife Ashley have four children: son Landon as well as three children from Ashley's previous relationship; Brittany, Austin, and Reagan.
On 24 June 2013, a 9-foot tall bronze and stainless steel statue of Petry by George Rivera was unveiled at Santa Fe City Hall. Among the visiting dignitaries, and seated next to Petry during the ceremony was Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall. Earlier in the day Leroy had entered Santa Fe by parachuting into Fort Marcy with several retired U.S. servicemen.
The city of Santa Fe announced that as of 25 June 2013 the South Meadows Bridge over the Santa Fe River will be rededicated as the "Sgt. First Class Leroy Arthur Petry Bridge."
- Salvatore Giunta
- Dakota Meyer
- Clinton Romesha
- Ty Carter
- William D. Swenson
- Kyle J. White
- Kyle Carpenter
- Ryan M. Pitts
- List of living Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Afghanistan Medal of Honor recipients
- Recipients of the Legion of Merit
- Collier & Del Calzo 2011, p. 322.
- Peerman, Lucas (4 June 2011), "Medal of Honor recipient a hero to his family, too", Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, New Mexico), archived from the original on 4 June 2011, retrieved 22 January 2013
- Medal of Honor: Sergeant First Class Leroy A. Petry, Operation Enduring Freedom, Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 26 May 2008, retrieved 22 January 2013
- Markovics & Pushies 2012, p. 6.
- "Wounded Ranger to be awarded Medal of Honor", Navy Times (Washington, D.C.), 31 May 2011, retrieved 22 January 2013
- Murphy, Kim (10 June 2011), "Soldier to receive Medal of Honor", Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), retrieved 22 January 2013
- Markovics & Pushies 2012, p. 7.
- Matinez, Luis (13 July 2011), Pentagon Honors Medal of Honor Recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, New York City, New York: ABC News, retrieved 22 January 2013
- Collier & Del Calzo 2011, p. 329.
- Markovics & Pushies 2012, p. 8.
- French, Alex (November 2011). "Leroy Petry, Real Action Hero". Men's Journal (Wenner Media). Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Collier & Del Calzo 2011, p. 332.
- Meyer & West 2012, p. 190.
- Matlock, Staci (13 July 2011), "Son, father, husband, hero: Santa Fe native Leroy A. Petry's path to the Medal of Honor", Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, New Mexico), retrieved 22 January 2013
- Greenfogel, Alana (22 November 2012), Wounded soldier honored with bronze statue, Albuquerque, New Mexico: KOAT-TV, retrieved 22 January 2013
- Tan, Michelle (6 February 2014). "MoH recipient Petry ponders future after retirement". Army Times. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Curthoys, Kathleen (23 July 2014). "Medal of Honor recipient SFC Leroy Petry retires today". Army Times (Gannett Government Media). Retrieved 24 July 2014.
Wong, Lui Kit (23 July 2014). "MSG Leroy A. Petry Retirement Ceremony". The News Tribune. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
- McLemore, Lucian W. (20 November 2009). DD214. United States Army. Wikisource. p. 4.
- The New Mexican, Tuesday 24 June 2013, p. 4-A
- Collier, Peter; Del Calzo, Nick (2011), Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, Third Edition, New York City, New York: Workman Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-57965-462-7
- Markovics, Joyce L.; Pushies, Fred J. (2012), Today's Army Heroes, New York City, New York: Bearport Publishing, ISBN 978-1-61772-445-9
- Meyer, Dakota; West, Bing (2012), Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War, New York City, New York: Random House, ISBN 978-0-8129-9340-0
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