WASHINGTON, D.C. -- White House officials announced late yesterday that President Barack Obama will award Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta his Medal of Honor on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at a White House ceremony. Military officials said his wife, Jennifer, his parents, Steven and Rosemary Giunta, and other family members will be on hand to "commemorate his example of selfless service."
The event will be the first time the nation's top political leaders will be able to shake hands with a living Medal of Honor recipient from the current wars. Giunta is the fourth man to be awarded the honor for actions in Afghanistan, but the other three were all posthumous ceremonies with families fighting back tears.
Giunta has been humble about his status as the first living recipient, and notes that the honor would be more joyful if it didn't come with the death of a fellow soldier. Guinta is being honored for preventing Taliban fighters from abducting the body of Sgt. Joshua Brennan, one of Giunta’s closest friends, after he was killed in a firefight in October 2007.
Still, expect this ceremony to have a distinctly different feel from the previous ones, and significant more media attention than any of the previous Afghanistan awards (which are still among the most attended White House events).