Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
On a raid in a Taliban compound, Master Sergeant Petry was wounded in both legs when an enemy grenade landed by his wounded comrade. Without thinking twice, Petry saved his friend by throwing the grenade back and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his self-sacrifice.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Master Sergeant Leroy Arthur Petry was born on July 29th, 1979 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was his childhood dream to become a soldier, and at 20 years old he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Petry followed in the footsteps of his cousin and became an Army Ranger. As a Ranger, Petry deployed twice to Iraq and six times to Afghanistan. At the Ranger Regiment, he filled a number of billets: grenadier, squad automatic rifleman, team leader, squad leader, and operations sergeant.
On May 26th, 2008, then-Staff Sergeant Petry was deployed to Paktya Province, Afghanistan. Petry and his team of six Rangers were tasked with capturing a high value Taliban member inside a compound. As soon as they were inserted by helicopter near the objective, the Rangers were engaged by a dozen armed Taliban fighters. As other Rangers cleared the target building, Petry and Private First Class Robinson cleared the outer courtyard of the compound, encountering three hostiles. One round went through both of Petry’s legs and PFC Robinson was wounded. The two took cover inside the courtyard’s chicken coop as another Ranger, Sergeant Higgins, joined them. As Higgins examined Petry’s and Robinson’s wounds, a Taliban fighter threw a grenade 10 meters away, knocking them all to the ground and wounding Higgins. Two more Rangers came to their rescue as another enemy grenade landed near Robinson and Higgins. Without hesitation, Petry grabbed the grenade and threw it back, saving his comrades’ lives. The moment the grenade left his hand, it exploded, severing Petry’s hand. The rest of the team arrived and were able to eliminate the Taliban, but not before one Ranger, Specialist Christopher Gathercole, was mortally wounded.
Following the battle, Petry was evacuated to Germany and his right arm was amputated below the elbow. His new prosthetic arm has the name of every fallen Ranger from his unit engraved on it.
After recovering, Petry was promoted to Sergeant First Class and deployed again to Afghanistan. In 2010, he reenlisted and served as a liaison officer for U.S. Special Operations Command’s Care Coalition.
On July 12th, 2011, Petry was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House. He became the second living recipient of the award for actions that took place after the Vietnam War. His other awards include the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.
Three years later, Petry was promoted to Master Sergeant, and he medically retired from the Army. After retiring, Petry became a public speaker, consultant, and veterans’ advocate.
The Medal of Honor Podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our script writer, Declan Rohrs is our script editor and recording engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, got to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.