United States Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta — the first living service member since the Vietnam War to be awarded the military’s most prestigious honor — took off the iconic light blue ribbon that holds the heavy medallion and handed it over to the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s commander in Vincenza, Italy on Wednesday. For good.
He didn’t believe he could rightfully keep it any longer.
“It can’t be with me because it’s ours,” he said, during a ceremony for a new memorial in the European town where the brigade is based.
“I want this to stay in Vicenza, with the 173rd, with the men and women who earn this every single day through their selflessness and sacrifice.”
This from Stars and Stripes:
Giunta’s gift to the brigade came near the beginning of a casual, 45-minute event in which privates, children and civilians strolled with war heroes, sergeants major and a major general along a brick walkway on a balmy Italian evening. The walkway, stretching from the brigade headquarters to the gym, is lined with 18 memorials to men who, on what was frequently the worst and final day of their lives, displayed conspicuous gallantry and uncommon valor.
Two fought in World War II, 13 fought in Vietnam and three fought in Afghanistan, including Giunta, Sgt. Kyle White and Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts. All are remembered with a stone pedestal bearing plaques that show their faces and recite their heroic deeds.
You can read about the heroism that ultimately earned Giunta the MOH, here.