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Leroy Petry

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Leroy Arthur Petry
Leroy A Petry.jpg
Petry in 2011
Born (1979-07-29) 29 July 1979 (age 39)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1999–2014
RankMaster Sergeant
UnitCompany D, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Battles/warsIraq War
War in Afghanistan (WIA)
AwardsMedal of Honor
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart

Leroy Arthur Petry (born 29 July 1979) is a career United States Army soldier, now retired. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in Afghanistan 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 was deployed several times 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. He saved the soldiers' lives but the grenade exploded, severing his right hand.

Petry became the second recent living recipient of the medal for the war in Afghanistan in 2011 when he received the award from U.S. President Barack Obama. Opting to reenlist in spite of his injury, Petry remained on active duty in the U.S. Army until his retirement on 29 July 2014.

Early life and education[edit]

Leroy Petry was born on 29 July 1979, in Santa Fe, New Mexico,[1] to Larry and Lorella (Tapia) Petry, of Mexican American descent.[2] He is the third of five sons, with older brothers Larry Armando and Lloyd, and younger brothers Lyndon and Lincoln. In his youth, he was described as very active and likable by his friends and family. Petry attended Santa Fe High School but was a poor student; he repeated 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 played 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 it closed.[3]

Petry spent the next year studying at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico.[4] 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.[5]

Military career[edit]

Petry – seated to his left, Santa Fe mayor David Coss, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and sculptor and governor of Pojoaque Pueblo, George Rivera.

Influenced by a cousin who joined the United States Army Rangers,[4] Petry enlisted in the Army in Santa Fe in September 1999. He also became a Ranger. He attended Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.[1] At the time of the September 11th attacks, he was training to become a Ranger.[5]

Upon completion of his training, Petry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington state. Petry had a total of eight deployments: two supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and six supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. In all, Petry 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.[1]

Medal of Honor action[edit]

Map of the target building and surrounding area.
Petry after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House in 2011.

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,[1][6] which was on a daylight raid to capture a high-value target from the Taliban. Petry was to locate with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured. Once there, he was to serve as the senior non-commissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation.[7] The team of 70 Rangers encountered about 40 Taliban, 12 of them armed.[8] Almost immediately after getting out of the helicopters that delivered the unit to the attack site, the Rangers came under strong fire.[6] 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 an outer courtyard.[5]

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 that went through both his legs,[1] 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. At the chicken coop, the two men were joined by Sergeant Daniel Higgins, who assessed the wounds of the two soldiers.[5][8]

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.[5] Shortly thereafter the three were joined by Staff Sergeant James Roberts and Specialist Christopher Gathercole. A Taliban fighter threw another grenade, which landed a few feet from Higgins and Robinson. Knowing the risk, Petry picked up and attempted to throw the grenade in the direction of the Taliban.[9] 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.[10]

The detonation amputated his right hand, and sprayed his body with shrapnel.[11] Petry likely saved the two other soldiers from serious injury or death.[12][8]

Petry placed a tourniquet on his right arm.[1] 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.[5] Higgins and Robinson returned fire, killing that fighter.[1] They were 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.[5]

Return to service[edit]

Petry's wounds resulted in his right arm having to be amputated 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.[4] 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.[13] After recovering, Petry did not seek a medical discharge; instead, he deployed to Afghanistan between recovering and receiving the Medal of Honor.[5] He was later promoted to the rank of sergeant first class.[6]

Petry received the Medal of Honor from U.S. President Barack Obama on 12 July 2011 in a ceremony at the White House. He is the second living recipient of the medal, after Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, for actions occurring after the Vietnam War. He is the ninth recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.[14] Giunta was in attendance at the awarding ceremony.[12] Petry later in 2011 attended the Medal of Honor ceremony of U.S. Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer, the third living recipient of the medal since Vietnam.[15]


Petry re-enlists in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Washington, in May 2010.

Following this award, Petry was asked to appear on talk shows and at other gatherings, starting with Good Morning America.[4] In his spare time, he stayed physically active. He has learned to golf, hunt, water ski, and drive all terrain vehicles with use of his prosthetic hand.[3]

In 2010, Petry re-enlisted in the U.S. Army for an indefinite term of service.[4] He 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.[14] In 2011, Petry also began attending Pierce College, pursuing a bachelor of science degree in business management.[5]

Although he had wanted to complete 20 years of active duty service, due to medical and "psychological issues", Petry decided to seek medical retirement.[16] In June 2014, Petry was given a house by George Strait on behalf of a charity, in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.[17] On 23 July 2014, Petry was promoted to Master Sergeant and was awarded the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony. He was inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Maurice. He officially retired from the United States Army on 29 July 2014, after nearly 15 years of service.[18]

Post military activities[edit]

Before he retired, Petry stated his intention to spend more time with family, and to further his education.[19] On Veterans Day 2014, Petry was featured on The Concert for Valor.[20] In January 2015, Master Sergeant Jose Rodela and Petry attended the All-American Bowl in San Antonio.[21] In April 2015, Corporal Kyle Carpenter, and Petry, returned back to Afghanistan where both addressed deployed servicemembers.[22] As part of paying tribute to Missing in Action/Prisoners of War, Petry completed a 10-day cross country Run For The Wall in May 2015.[23] In 2015 and 2016, fellow Medal of Honor recipients Meyer, and Clint Romesha, and Petry became involved in the movie Range 15.[24] In 2017, Petry was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning.[25] During the 2018 United States elections, Petry endorsed the candidacy of Jeb Bush, then Donald Trump.[26] Working with non-profits, Petry has escorted wounded veterans to return back to Afghanistan, for Operation Proper Exit, more than a dozen times.[27] Along with fellow Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg, Petry works for a consulting company, Mission 6 Zero.[28]

Petry has become an advocate for behavioral medicine.[29] In addition to all these activities, Petry has become a a prolific speaker; he has spoken at College of William & Mary,[30] University of South Florida,[31] Minneapolis,[32] Kabul,[33] Fairbanks,[34] Virginia Tech,[35] and Montana State University.[36]

Awards and decorations[edit]

MSG Petry has received the following awards:[5]

Right breast Left breast
75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia.svg
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
BSicon s.svg
BSicon s.svg
BSicon s.svg
US Army 2nd Ranger BN CSIB.png
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges.
Width-44 purple ribbon with width-4 white stripes on the borders Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Width-44 green ribbon with central width-8 flag blue stripe flanked by a pair of width-2 yellow stripes. At distance 6 from the edges are a pair of width-4 yellow stripes.Award numeral 3.svg
Award numeral 4.png
Ranger Tab.svg Image168.gifUnited States Air Force Parachutist Badge.svgAward-star-silver-3d.png US Army Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge-Generic.png
Joint Meritorious Unit Award[37] Valorous Unit Award Combat Infantryman Badge
Medal of Honor Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with a bronze Oak leaf cluster Purple Heart Army Commendation Medal w/ two bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Joint Service Achievement Medal Army Achievement Medal w/ one Oak Leaf Cluster Army Good Conduct Medal w/ 4 bronze loops
National Defense Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars Iraq Campaign Medal with two Campaign stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal[38] Global War on Terrorism Service Medal NCO Professional Development Ribbon w/ award numeral 3
Army Service Ribbon Army Overseas Service Ribbon w/ award numeral 4 NATO Medal for ex-Yugoslavia
2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Combat Service Identification Badge Ranger Tab Senior Parachutist Badge Expert Marksmanship Badge w/ rifle bar
Expert Infantry Badge.svg Expert Infantryman Badge
Canadian jump wings.png Canadian Jump Wings (non-operational)
4 Overseas Service Bars
ArmySstripe.jpg 4 Service stripes

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.

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 May 26, 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.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Petry and his wife Ashley have four children: son Landon as well as three children from Ashley's previous relationship.[4] As of December 2015, Petry resides in Steilacoom, Washington.[40]


  • On 24 June 2013, a 9-foot tall bronze and stainless steel statue of Petry by George Rivera, Governor of Pueblo of Pojoaque, was unveiled at Santa Fe City Hall. Among the visiting dignitaries was Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall.[41]
  • In 2013, a housing program was named after Petry in the Washington metropolitan area, funded by David Feherty's Troops First Foundation[42]
  • The city of Santa Fe announced that the South Meadows Bridge over the Santa Fe River will be rededicated as the "Sgt. First Class Leroy Arthur Petry Bridge."[43]
  • In 2018, a unit for care of veterans in a psychiatric hospital in Marysville, Washington, was dedicated on behalf of Petry.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Collier & Del Calzo 2011, p. 322.
  2. ^ DAMARYS OCAÑA PEREZ (12 July 2011). "LATINO SOLDIER RECEIVES MEDAL OF HONOR". Latina. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b 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
  4. ^ a b c d e f 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
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 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
  6. ^ a b c Markovics & Pushies 2012, p. 6.
  7. ^ "Wounded Ranger to be awarded Medal of Honor", Navy Times, Washington, D.C., 31 May 2011, retrieved 22 January 2013
  8. ^ a b c Murphy, Kim (10 June 2011), "Soldier to receive Medal of Honor", Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, retrieved 22 January 2013
  9. ^ Markovics & Pushies 2012, p. 7.
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Collier & Del Calzo 2011, p. 329.
  12. ^ a b Markovics & Pushies 2012, p. 8.
  13. ^ French, Alex (November 2011). "Leroy Petry, Real Action Hero". Men's Journal. Wenner Media. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  14. ^ a b Collier & Del Calzo 2011, p. 332.
  15. ^ Meyer & West 2012, p. 190.
  16. ^ Tan, Michelle (6 February 2014). "MoH recipient Petry ponders future after retirement". Army Times. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  17. ^ Papadatos, Markos (8 June 2014). "George Strait breaks North America indoor concert record". Digital Journal. Canada. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  18. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
    William McRaven, Erik Kurilla (23 July 2014). Master Sergeant Leroy A. Petry Retirement Ceremony (video). Joint Base Lewis-McChord: DVIDS. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  19. ^ Ashton, Adam (23 July 2014). "Leroy Petry says he's ready to be more than the JBLM soldier with Medal of Honor". News Tribune. Tacoma. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  20. ^ Mitotero, El (12 November 2014). "Santa Fe hero Leroy Petry honored on HBO, receives salute from Oprah". New Mexican. Santa Fe. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Army All-American Bowl honors local Medal of Honor recipient". USA Today High School Sports. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  22. ^ Tan, Michelle (15 April 2015). "War heroes return to Afghanistan for 'Proper Exit'". ArmyTimes. Virginia. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  23. ^ Swanson, Kirsten (28 August 2014). "NM war hero gets special Harley Davidson tricycle". KOAT. Albuquerque. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  24. ^ Liley, Kevin (12 May 2015). "Ranger Up, Article 15 plan movie with 2 MOH recipients". ArmyTimes. Virginia. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
    Lilley, Kevin (26 June 2015). "Zombie apocalypse crowd-funding update: 'Range 15' destroys goal, adds MOH recipient". ArmyTimes. Virginia. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
    Lilley, Kevin (15 June 2016). "Vet-made zombie-comedy 'Range 15' debuts in more than 350 theaters". ArmyTimes. Virginia. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  25. ^ Diamond, Christopher (29 June 2017). "Meet the newest members of the Army's Ranger Hall of Fame". Army Times. Virginia. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  26. ^ Lilley, Kevin (18 August 2015). "12 Medal of Honor awardees back Jeb Bush for president". ArmyTimes. Virginia. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
    Shane III, Leo (12 September 2016). "Fourteen Medal of Honor recipients endorse Trump". MilitaryTimes. Virginia. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  27. ^ Vega, Louis (11 April 2018). "Leaving the AOR on their own terms". Air Force News Service. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  28. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients have something to say to the NFL". We Are The Mighty. 17 September 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  29. ^ Ovel, Suzanne (29 June 2018). "Medal of Honor recipient encourages 'taking a knee' for behavioral health". Army Medicine. United States Army. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  30. ^ Zagursky, Erin (28 March 2014). "Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry to speak at W&M's Commencement". College of William & Mary. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
    Petry, Leroy A. (11 May 2014). "Commencement remarks of Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry". College of William & Mary. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  31. ^ O'Brien, Bobbie (8 November 2014). "Medal of Honor Recipient on A New Mission". WUSF. Tampa Bay. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  32. ^ Collins, Bob (25 June 2016). "What Sgt. Petry can teach Minnesota's kids". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  33. ^ Wellman, Phillip Walter (26 November 2016). "The wounded return to Afghanistan: 'I came back to prove to myself that I am not broken'". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  34. ^ Laude, Julia (25 July 2018). "Medal of Honor Recipient visits Fort Wainwright". KTVF. Fairbanks, Alaska. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  35. ^ Sullivan, Valerie (12 November 2018). "Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Leroy Petry to speak at Virginia Tech". WVNS-TV. Lewisburg, West Virginia. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  36. ^ Schontzler, Gail (3 May 2019). "Graduating MSU Army ROTC cadets ready to lead". Daily Chronicle. Bozeman. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  37. ^ McLemore, Lucian W. (20 November 2009). DD214 . United States Army. p. 4 – via Wikisource.
  38. ^ [1]
  39. ^ "Citation for Sergeant First Class Leroy A. Petry – Medal of Honor Recipient for the United States Army". United States Army. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  40. ^ Ashton, Adam (29 December 2015). "War took her arms, but not her humor, compassion for other vets". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  41. ^ Nott, Robert (24 June 2013). "Military hero Petry swoops in for statue unveiling, ceremony". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  42. ^ Troops First Foundation (20 September 2013). "What's In A Name?". George W. Bush Presidential Center. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
    Coffin, Nelson (16 June 2015). "Vineyard and Valor puts focus on troops wounded in combat". The Baltimore Sun. Towson Times. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
    Drabble, Jenny (21 August 2015). "Foundation works to restore hope for service members". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  43. ^ The New Mexican, Tuesday 24 June 2013, p. 4-A
  44. ^ Powell, Steve (9 June 2018). "'We're not going to tolerate another generation of homeless veterans'". Marysville Globe. Retrieved 20 June 2019.

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