By Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish, 5th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 22, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., July 22, 2011 -- Being one of two living Medal of Honor recipients, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry has been headlining the media since being awarded the nation’s highest military honor by President Obama at the White House on July 12.
Petry spoke during a press conference held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 19.
“I want to use this honor to make a positive impact,” said Sgt. 1st Class Petry.
Petry earned the MOH for his actions in Afganistan with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. On May 26, 2008, Petry and another Ranger were engaged and wounded by automatic weapons fire from enemy fighters.
When asked does he feel like a hero he unhesitatingly responded, “I don’t think anyone sees themselves as a hero -- it's others looking at them. I have my heroes so that makes them super-heroes.”
During his recovery Petry met other servicemembers who sustained injuries in combat. He described their bond as the [Soldier brotherhood].
“We would challenge each other during therapy to push harder,” Petry exclaimed.
After his recovery he deployed in an assignment to visit Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. While there Petry provided encouragement and motivation to Soldiers, he also took part in holding the American flag during several re-enlistment ceremonies.
His wife, Ashley, couldn’t understand why he would go back after what already happened. But he explained to her that he is risking just as much as any other Soldier who is deployed.
Within the past week Petry and his family have been traveling and telling his story all across the U.S. The highlight for him was visiting the White House and meeting President Obama.
Petry’s family has been by his side through his recovery and continues to support him every day.
“It’s been an emotional week for my family, but this experience has inspired my son to attend West Point Academy,” said Petry, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, native. “To see him talk about that without any influence from me makes me happy.”
Petry took a moment to explain his prosthetic arm which also displays the names of some of his fellow fallen Soldiers.
“When I lost my hand I thought that I would be given a hook,” Petry said with a smirk. But the arm comes with different attachments, I also have cutlery knives so I can prepare dinner for my family.”
Although Petry has received the highest military honor and momentous recognition, he remains humbled.
“The Medal of Honor won’t change me and won’t interfere with me helping Soldiers,” Petry declared.