Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry
UNITED STATES ARMY
On May 26, 2008, Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry, as a member of a Ranger helicopter assault force conducting a daylight rotary wing raid in the vicinity of Paktya, Afghanistan, distinguished himself conspicuously and with gallantry and intrepidness, by risking his life above and beyond the call of duty, during an extremely close and violent engagement with an extraordinarily determined and well armed enemy. During the initial engagement, Staff Sergeant Petry was shot through both legs and another Ranger was hit by enemy ﬁre. Shortly thereafter, an enemy hand grenade landed amid Staff Sergeant Petry and two other Rangers; despite his serious leg wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry unhesitatingly moved to the grenade, grabbed it, and immediately threw the armed grenade away from his fellow Rangers. The grenade detonated shortly after Staff Sergeant Petry threw it away from his fellow Rangers resulting in a catastrophic amputation of his right hand and multiple shrapnel wounds penetrating his body. This deliberate individual act of heroism by Staff Sergeant Petry saved the lives of his fellow comrades and allowed the completion of the mission.
The helicopter assault force was committed to execute a rare daylight raid to accomplish the mission based on the high value of the target and its fleeting nature. Soldiers and helicopter assets were exposed to unusual risk by landing within small arms range of conﬁrmed enemy forces. At 1334z. on May 26, 2008, the assault force began to clear the objective area. Sergeant Petry's task was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured and serve as the senior Non-Commissioned at that site for the remainder of the operation. Recognizing one of the assault squads needed assistance clearing their assigned building, Staff Sergeant Petry relayed to the Platoon Leader that he was moving to the squad to provide additional supervision and guidance during the clearance of the building. Once the residential portion of the building had been cleared, Staff Sergeant Petry took a member of the assault squad, Private First Class Lucas Robinson, to clear the outer courtyard knowing it had not been cleared during the initial clearance. Both Rangers moved into an area of the compound that contained at least three enemy ﬁghters that were prepared to engage friendly forces from opposite ends of the outer courtyard. Staff Sergeant Petry and Private First Class Robinson entered the courtyard and immediately to their front was an opening followed by a small chicken coop. As they moved to cross the open area before the chicken coop, an enemy insurgent accurately engaged them with AK-47 ﬁre from an approximate range of 10 meters. Staff Sergeant Petry was wounded by one round, which went through both of his legs, and Private First Class Robinson was hit in his side plate by a separate round. While wounded and under accurate enemy fire, Staff Sergeant Petry led Private First Class Robinson to the cover of the chicken coop. The enemy continued to deliver accurate sustained fire in the vicinity of the chicken coop as Staff Sergeant Petry rapidly assessed the situation and reported that contact was made and that there were two wounded Rangers in the courtyard of the primary target building.
Upon hearing the report of two wounded Rangers, Sergeant Daniel Higgins, a team leader, immediately moved to the outer courtyard. As Sergeant Higgins was moving to Staff Sergeant Petry's and Private First Class Robinson's position, Staff Sergeant Petry threw a thermobaric grenade in the vicinity of the enemy position. Shortly after the grenade exploded, which created a lull in the enemy fire, Sergeant Higgins arrived at their position and began assessing their wounds. While Sergeant Higgins was evaluating the severity of their wounds, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop at the three Rangers. The grenade landed approximately ten meters from the three Rangers, knocked them to the ground, and wounded Sergeant Higgins and Private First Class Robinson. Shortly after the grenade exploded, Staff Sergeant James Roberts and Specialist Christopher Gathercole entered the courtyard moving towards the contact. Staff Sergeant Petry, Sergeant Higgins, and Private First Class Robinson were still grouped together on the side of the chicken coop when another grenade landed a few feet from Sergeant Higgins and Private First Class Robinson. Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Staff Sergeant Petry, despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety, consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away his fellow Rangers, removing the immediate threat to their lives. As Staff Sergeant Petty released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Sergeant Higgins and Private First Class Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated Staff Sergeant Petry's right hand. With a clear mind, Staff Sergeant Petry assessed his wound and quickly placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete he reported that he was still in contact and that he had been wounded again.
Staff Sergeant Petry's selﬂess and conspicuous gallantry during daylight hours of May 26, 2008 undeniably risked his life while saving the lives of two fellow Rangers and through great individual sacriﬁce and personal intrepidness enabled the assault force to accomplish its mission. His actions epitomize the Army's Warrior Spirit and have brought great credit to the 75th Ranger Regiment.Learn more about SGT 1st Class Petry