Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Army Ranger Gives U.S. A Hand

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor yesterday at the White House for grabbing a live grenade before it could explode and kill a fellow Ranger – Pfc. Lucas Robinson.

According to the USO website report, Petry is the second living Afghanistan war hero to receive this recognition.  He and Pvt. Robinson were on duty and already wounded in the firefight on May 26, 2008 in the Paktia province.  They were participating in a raid to capture a suspected terrorist and wounded by insurgent gunfire.  An enemy grenade landed near them.  Petry picked up the grenade and tossed it aside just before it exploded.
“I actually didn't think it was going to go off,” Petry told the Army News Service.  “I didn't really feel much pain.  I didn't know it had gone off and taken my hand until I sat back up and saw it was completely amputated at the wrist.”
The New Mexico-born Ranger's first concern was calming the stunned soldiers around him, who were still in great danger.  They took shelter behind a chicken coop, watching blood pour from Petry's devastated arm.
“The younger guys next to me were kind of still in shock and awe,” Petry said.
His right hand gone and shrapnel digging into his skin, Petry radioed for reinforcements.  When the ferocious battle was over, a fellow Ranger was dead, with several other Company D, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment soldiers wounded. 
“We were under fire and he was shot through both of his legs,” Robinson told Gaston Gazette reporter Wade Allen.  “He grabbed (the grenade) and threw it away from us.”
A father of four children - Brittany, Austin, Reagan, and Landon, and husband to wife, Ashley,  Petry regards the soldiers he serves alongside as his "second family."
“They're my Ranger brothers,” Petry said.  “They're great guys, all of them.”
Pfc. Robinson wants to make sure the Ranger who made the ultimate sacrifice during the same battle, Spc. Christopher Gathercole, 21, isn't forgotten.  Sgt. 1st Class Petry agrees.
To see Christopher Gathercole's name at the White House, all Robinson must do is look at Petry's new hand.  There, the man who saved Robinson's life engraves the names of fallen 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment warriors, to make sure America never forgets.
After countless surgeries and infinite courage, along with the astounding skill of Petry's caregivers, the wounded warrior has a new right hand.  He uses the state-of-the-art mechanical device every day, whether to high-five his kids or salute the President of the United States.
“I could shake people's hands today,” Petry said.  “I'm meeting people all the time.  It feels great to actually shake their hands with my right hand.”
Every time Pfc. Robinson shakes the hand of America's newest Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, he knows it is a privilege.
Every American owes Sgt. Petry a round of applause, as well as all the other warriors who have given their all – hands, legs, arms, feet, even their lives – to insure that we can enjoy freedom in peace and prosperity.

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