Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta ran toward the gunfire on a battlefield in Afghanistan, fending off Taliban fighters who attacked his unit. He was shot twice. But when he saw two Taliban dragging off a wounded solider, he ran them off and tried to save his friend. Today, the 25-year-old Giunta became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since 1976 for, as the official statement put it, his "extraordinary bravery."
Giunta, however, sees things differently. "In this job, I am only mediocre. I'm average. This was a situation that we were put into. I was just one brush stroke in that picture, and everyone else was one brush stroke in that picture. And while it wasn't the first brush stroke of that picture, and it wasn't the last brush stroke in that picture, and it wasn't the best, it was just another brush stroke that helped complete this picture."
Giunta says he did what any solider would do. In his remarks after receiving the medal, he credited all of the soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he first found out he would receive the Medal, he said he felt "lost" and "angry." "It is a great thing," Giunta told CNN. "But it is a great thing that has come at a personal loss to myself and so many other families."