WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 13, 2011) Medal of Honor recipient and Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry was inducted into the Hall of Heroes in a standing-room-only ceremony at the Pentagon today.
Petry was presented the nation's highest award for valor by President Barack Obama July 12 and just the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.
In the combatant action in Afghanistan that earned him the medal, Petry was seriously wounded in both legs. When an enemy grenade landed near his teammates Sgt. Daniel Higgins and Pfc. Lucas Robinson, Petry grabbed the grenade and as he hurled it back at the enemy it exploded taking his right hand.
The induction ceremony began with remarks on Petry’s heroic actions by Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operation Command. After Olson praised the Soldier for his extraordinary actions, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey took the podium.
"Our profession, the profession of arms, is built on the foundation of trust," said Dempsey. "We trust in our leaders, we trust in our fellow Soldiers, we trust in families for whom we care for, we trust in our equipment, and most of all, we trust that we care enough about each other to risk our lives for each other.
"Sgt. 1st Class Petry's actions validate that trust and that is an enduring gift that he has given to us as an Army, and to our nation," Dempsey said.
Following Dempsey, Secretary of the Army John McHugh addressed Petry saying that although Petry does not desire recognition, the Soldier's grit, courage and valor are deserving of it.
Newly appointed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rounded off remarks saying that the induction was one of his first great acts as secretary and that he considered it a real privilege to help induct Petry into the Hall of Heroes.
After the official party’s remarks were given, Petry and his wife Ashley took the stage accompanied by Panetta, McHugh, Dempsey and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.
Petry was presented with a framed photo and citation before he and his wife unveiled the Hall of Heroes plaque now wielding his name. He then was presented with a Medal of Honor Flag.
Once the official party was seated again, Petry addressed the crowd thanking the attendees, his fellow Rangers and his family.
"I'm humbled by this ceremony, your words and your presence," said Petry. "I particularly want to thank my wife, Ashley, my children, Brittany, Austin, Reagan and Landon. It was their love that kept me going on this journey, and will keep me going in the future."