November 12, 2015

Groberg Receives Medal of Honor

The tenth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Afghanistan.

> Editor’s Note: This is an update to our original Oct. 15 article.

On Nov. 12, Captain Florent “Flo” Groberg became the tenth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions while serving in Afghanistan. Groberg, who became a naturalized citizen in 2001, was serving as the brigade personal security detachment commander for 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. On Aug. 8, 2012, Groberg spotted a suicide bomber headed for his patrol. According to the Army’s account of his actions:

> Groberg rushed the suspect and shoved him away from the patrol. Groberg then immediately confirmed the individual was wearing a suicide vest, and with the help of Sgt. Andrew Mahoney … grabbed the suicide bomber, physically driving him away from the formation and down to the ground.

> While on the ground, the bomber’s explosive vest detonated. The explosion caused a second suicide bomber, who remained hidden behind a small structure near the road, to detonate his vest prematurely. Most of the blast of the second bomber’s suicide vest went straight into a building, adjacent to the patrol.

> Groberg’s actions disrupted both bombers from detonating as planned, saving the majority of lives he was charged with protecting.

“[I]t was the worst day of my life,” he said, “because even though we defeated the enemy, I lost four of my brothers.”

Four Americans were killed by the blasts, but the damage would have been much worse without Groberg’s selfless act. He suffered significant injuries and spent nearly three years at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Still, he says, “The proudest thing I have ever done in my life is to wear this uniform and serve my country.”

Before Thursday’s ceremony, Groberg said, “I would give anything to have all these guys back — anything. This medal … I’d turn it right back in, right now, say, ‘No, thank you. Bring my guys back right here.’ But it’s combat. It’s Afghanistan. We understand when we raise our right hand … [that] we are volunteering to defend our nation. And we will go where they send us.”

Typical of the humility of such heroes, Groberg added, “I’m just a lucky man to have had the opportunity to stand next to these men. And they’re the true heroes in this. I am just a courier. ‘Cause that medal doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to them, to the true heroes. It belongs to their families.”

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