Leroy Arthur Petry, born on July 29, 1979, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a name etched in the annals of American military history. A retired United States Army soldier, Petry's journey is a testament to unwavering courage and sacrifice. In this tribute, we will navigate through the pivotal chapters of his life, from early struggles to heroic acts on the battlefield, shedding light on the man behind the medals.
Early Life and Struggles: Petry's roots trace back to Santa Fe, where he spent his youth as the third of five sons in the Petry family. Though initially a poor student, he overcame academic challenges, graduating in 1998 from St. Catherine Indian School. Petry's active and likable demeanor defined his youth, marked by a passion for sports, fixing cars, and culinary pursuits.
Military Enlistment and Heroics: Influenced by a cousin's enlistment in the U.S. Army Rangers, Petry joined the Army in September 1999. His training at Fort Benning, Georgia, set the stage for a remarkable military career. Assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Petry embarked on multiple deployments, showcasing versatility in various roles.
Defining Moment: May 26, 2008, became the defining moment in Petry's military service. Deployed to Paktia Province, Afghanistan, he displayed unparalleled bravery. Despite sustaining gunshot wounds, Petry continued to lead and fight. In a selfless act, he saved fellow soldiers by grabbing and attempting to throw away a live grenade, resulting in the amputation of his right hand.
Post-War Life and Career: Petry's resilience extended beyond the battlefield. Opting to reenlist despite his injuries, he continued serving until his retirement on July 29, 2014. His post-military endeavors included pursuing higher education, engaging in various activities, and becoming an advocate for wounded veterans.
Military Awards and Decorations: Petry's valor did not go unnoticed. His accolades include the Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (2), Purple Heart, and numerous others. The Medal of Honor, awarded by President Barack Obama in 2011, recognized Petry's extraordinary heroism and sacrifice.
Conclusion: As we reflect on the journey of Master Sergeant Leroy Arthur Petry, we encounter a man whose courage transcends the battlefield. His story is a testament to the indomitable spirit of our nation's heroes. This Thanksgiving, let us honor and express gratitude not only for the festive feast but also for the sacrifices made by individuals like Leroy Petry, whose unwavering commitment to duty ensures our freedom and the safety of generations to come.