Medal of Honor recipient's 'instincts' saved lives

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Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Army Captain

Army Capt. Florent Groberg said his "instincts kicked in" when, while serving on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, he tackled a suicide bomber, saved the lives of other soldiers and sustained a serious leg injury in the process.

He might attribute those actions to a gut reaction, but the military considers it heroism. President Barack Obama presented Groberg with the Medal of Honor on Thursday, making him just the 10th living recipient of the country's highest military award.

"These actions were demanded among some of the most dreadful moments of war," the president said. "That's precisely why we honor heroes like 'Flo'. On his very worst day he managed to summon his very best."

Photos from the Medal of Honor ceremony:

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Florent Groberg receives Medal of Honor 11/12
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Medal of Honor recipient's 'instincts' saved lives
Retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg stands during the Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France, who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the medal for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (C) hugs retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg after presenting him with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France, who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the medal for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama presents Retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the highest award a US service member can receive for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama presents a Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry to Army Captain Florent A. Groberg (Ret.) during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. Captain Groberg received the Medal of Honor for attempting to push a suicide bomber away from harming his patrol while serving as a Personal Security Detachment Commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during combat operations in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on August 8, 2012. He was severely injured from his courageous actions. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg after presenting him with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the highest award a US service member can receive for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama applauds after presenting retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France, who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the medal for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama hugs retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg after presenting him with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the highest award a US service member can receive for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama stands alongside retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg after presenting him with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the highest award for a US service member for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg, shows his wrist braclet with the names of his fallen patrol soldiers killed on the day he survived, as he speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Groberg breathed deeply and blinked back tears as Obama placed the medal around the soldier's neck during the ceremony. He stood before the family members of those who served with him and ultimately died on that fateful day.

For Groberg, whose friends call him "Flo", heroism came with a price -- both physical and emotional.

Groberg's mission on Aug. 8, 2012, seemed clear cut: escort then-Col. James Mingus, who is now a brigadier general, as well as some high ranking Afghanistan leaders to attend a Kunar province security meeting with an Afghan provincial governor.

He'd done these kinds of escort missions before, usually without a hitch.

But that day was different. Things felt "eerie" and "odd".

He and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Brink, who was also part of the escort mission, shared that sense of foreboding.

Their hunch proved right when several motorcycles whipped around a corner. The riders approached in the direction of the unit then got off the bikes and seemed to leave.

Then Groberg saw a man on his left walking backwards toward them. When the man turned around, Groberg noticed he was wearing a vest.

Groberg quickly assessed the situation and realized "he's the threat." He couldn't shoot the man because he didn't know the full scope of the situation, plus the man was armed.

"So I hit him," Groberg said adding that he pushed the man further away and grabbed the man by the vest. He and Sgt. Andrew Mahoney tackled him as well in an attempt to get him away from the rest of the detail.

Sometime during this skirmish, the man's vest detonated. Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray and Ragaei Abdelfattah, a U.S. Agency for International Development foreign service officer, were all killed in the blast.

Groberg considers that moment as "the worst day of my life". He still mourns their deaths and thinks often of their "courage and professionalism" on that day.

"Unfortunately we still lost four individuals," Groberg said. "If I could go back and do a little more, make sure all of our boys come home safely."

Gorberg was knocked unconscious by the explosion. He awoke with a badly shredded leg.

Brink helped get Groberg to a medic. His injuries would later require three years of recovery and more than 30 surgeries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

It was a difficult recovery for someone who once ran track at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md., and at the University of Maryland-College Park. He lives with chronic pain and a limp and has wondered whether it might not be better to have his leg amputated.

But coping with the events of that day would take much longer.

See photos of Groberg:

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Army Capt. Florent Groberg
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Medal of Honor recipient's 'instincts' saved lives
In this photo taken Oct. 20, 2015, former Army Captain Florent Groberg poses for a portrait at the Pentagon. President Obama will present him with the Medal of Honor, which will make Groberg the 10th living recipient of the nationâs highest military award for actions in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2013, file photo, Capt. Florent Groberg returns for the Change of Command ceremony for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Carson's Special Events Center, in Colo. On Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, President Obama will present him with the Medal of Honor, which will make Groberg the 10th living recipient of the nation’s highest military award for actions in Afghanistan. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP, File)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on October 29, 2015 in front of the Hall of Heroes. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child. Groberg will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. The Hall of Heroes, located on the Pentagon's main concourse is dedicated to the more than 3,460 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military decoration. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg, shows his wrist braclet with the names of his fallen patrol soldiers killed on the day he survived, as he speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child, and will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired US Army Captain Florent Groberg speaks to reporters at the Pentagon on October 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. Groberg on November 12, 2015 will receive the Medal of Honor for 'conspicuous gallantry' after he jumped on a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg was born in France and moved to the US as a child. Groberg will become the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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He wears the names of the fallen on a bracelet and his has vowed to live his life not just for himself, "but for my brothers.

"I carry them in my heart and in my actions and I try to do the best to honor their lives and their families."

Related: See a history of Medal of Honor recipients:

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Medal of Honor recipients
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Medal of Honor recipient's 'instincts' saved lives
This undated photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society shows First Lt. Alonzo Cushing. A Civil War soldier is to be honored with the nation's highest military decoration 151 years after his death.The White House announced Wednesday that President Barack Obama will give the Medal of Honor to Alonzo H. Cushing. His descendants and Civil War buffs have been pushing for the Union Army lieutenant killed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to receive the award. (AP Photo/Wisconsin Historical Society)
In an undated  photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society Alonzo Cushing, left, poses with, from left, Capt. L. Kipp; Major Clark; Lt. Col. Joseph Taylor; Major General E.V. Sumner; Capt. Samuel Sumner; Surgeon Hammond; Lt. Col. Lawrence.  Cushing is expected to get the nation's highest military decoration this summer _ the Medal of Honor _ nearly 150 years after he died at the battle of Gettysburg.   (AP Photo/Wisconsin Historical Society)
President Barack Obama speaks as he awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Obama bestowed the nation's highest military honor to the Union Officer who was killed more the 150 years ago in the Battle of Gettysburg. Cushing died in July 1863 while standing his ground against Pickett's Charge. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Margaret Zerwekh of Delafield, Wis. raises her hand as she is acknowledged by President Barack Obama during a ceremony awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Obama acknowledged the work of Zerwekh, a 94-year-old amateur historian from Cushing's hometown who painstakingly researched his story and lobbied Wisconsin's congressional delegation for decades. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Margaret Zerwekh of Delafield, Wis. listens as President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Obama acknowledged the work of Zerwekh, a 94-year-old amateur historian from Cushing's hometown who painstakingly researched his story and lobbied Wisconsin's congressional delegation for decades. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama stands with Helen Loring Ensign, 85, from Palm Desert, Calif., as he awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Obama bestowed the nation's highest military honor to the Union Officer who was killed more the 150 years ago in the Battle of Gettysburg. Cushing died in July 1863 while standing his ground against Pickett's Charge. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama (4th L) and Helen Loring Ensign (3rd L) of Palm Desert, California, who receives the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on behalf of Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, pose for pictures with (L-R) Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Army Secretary John McHugh, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama presented the award posthumously to Lieutenant Cushing who served as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac for his actions during combat operations in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Helen Loring Ensign (L) of Palm Desert, California, who recevies the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on behalf of Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, listen to recitation of Cushing's heroic story during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama presented the award posthumously to Lieutenant Cushing who served as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac for his actions during combat operations in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama bestows the Medal of Honor on retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama, right, applauds as retired Army Command Sgt. Maj, Bennie G. Adkins salutes after receiving the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House, on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Washington. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama bestows the Medal of Honor on retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins in the East Room of the White House, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Washington. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, left, escorts retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins before presenting him with the Medal of Honor, in the East Room of the White House, on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Washington. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In this undated photo provided by the US Army, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins is pictured. President Obama will bestow the Medal of Honor at theWhite House on Monday. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
President Barack Obama bestows the Medal of Honor on retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins in the East Room of the White House, on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Washington. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama bestows the Medal of Honor on retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins salutes after President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on him in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. Adkins was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being recognized for actions during his second combat tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag injured comrades to safety.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama shakes hands with retired Marine Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter after awarding him the Medal of Honor, Thursday, June 19, 2014, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Carpenter took a blow from a grenade to protect a fellow Marine in Afghanistan, sustaining major wounds including the loss of his right eye. He is the eighth living recipient to be chosen for the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Army Sgt. Ryan M. Pitts looks out at the audience after receiving the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House Monday, July 21, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
This photo released by the United States Navy shows Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor while attending cold weather training in Kodiak, Alaska, in 2004. The elite Navy SEAL who threw himself on top of a grenade in Iraq to save his comrades will be posthumously awarded the highest U.S. military tribute, the Medal of Honor, a presidential press secretary announced Monday, March 31, 2008. (AP Photo, United States Navy)
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry smiles after greeting a journalist following a news conference Tuesday, July 19, 2011, at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash. Petry returned to the base Tuesday, a week after President Obama awarded him the Medal of Honor. Petry was given the medal after saving the lives of fellow Army Rangers in 2008 in Afghanistan when, after being wounded by gunfire in both legs, he grabbed a grenade thrown by enemy combatants and lost his hand when he grabbed it and tried to throw it aside. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
**ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY JUNE 1 ** Thomas and Romayne McGinnis hold a drawing of their son, Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis, in their Shippenville, Pa. home on Friday, May 30, 2008. On Monday, the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, will be awarded to their son posthumously. McGinnis, 19, was in the gunner's hatch of a Humvee while on duty in Iraq on Dec. 4, 2006, when a grenade sailed past him and into the vehicle where four other soldiers sat. He shouted a warning, then jumped on the grenade while it was lodged near the vehicle's radio. It blew up and killed him.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
President Bush, right, applauds Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham's family, left, as they take part in a Medal of Honor ceremony, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Dunham, a young Marine, fell on a hand grenade in Iraq two years ago, giving his life to save comrades. From left are, his father Dan Dunham, brother,Kyle Dunham, mother Deb Dunham, brother Justin Dunham, sister Katlyn Dunham, and the president. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Debra Ann Dunham smashes a champagne bottle during the christening ceremony of the USS Jason Dunham, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The ship is named after her son, the late Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, of Scio, N.Y. Dunham, 22, of Scio, N.Y., mortally wounded as he saved his comrades that day, will be honored Saturday at the christening of the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham. The young corporal who threw his Kevlar helmet and his body onto the grenade became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Streamers fly during the christening ceremony of the USS Jason Dunham, an Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, at Bath iron Works in Bath, Maine. The ship is named after the late Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, of Scio, N.Y. Dunham, 22, of Scio, N.Y., who was mortally wounded as he saved his comrades that day, will be honored Saturday at the christening of the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham. The young corporal who threw his Kevlar helmet and his body onto the grenade became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Dan and Debbie Dunham hold a portrait of their son, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, on the back porch of their home in Scio, N.Y., Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006. On Friday, Nov. 10, 2006, President Bush announced Cpl. Dunham would be the first Marine to receive the medal since the Vietnam War. Dunham died in Iraq after covering a grenade with his helmet and body, saving the lives of those around him. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith is seen in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Army. Smith's family is scheduled to receive the Medal of Honor during White House ceremonies Monday, April 4, 2005 for his actions during the invasion of Iraq. He was killed in action when his outnumbered unit was attacked by Iraqi forces at the Baghdad airport April 4, 2003 and is credited for saving hundreds of lives. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Medal of Honor recipients (from left) Capt. William Swenson, Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, and Col. Joe Jackson, right, stand and salute Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. during a ceremony to honor them as Medal of Honor recipients from Washington state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, of Hiawatha, Iowa, the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is greeted by a veteran after being honored during a public ceremony, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor posthumously to the parent's of US Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, Phil, center, and Maureen Miller, left, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Miller received the honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on January 25, 2008, after displaying immeasurable courage and uncommon valor eventually sacrificing his own life to save the lives of his teammates and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 23, from Greensburg, Ky, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Meyer was in Afghanistan's Kunar province in Sept. 2009 when he repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops. He is the first living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama posthumously awards Army Sgt. 1st. Class Jared C. Monti from Raynham, Mass., the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan, to his parents Paul and Janet Monti, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
This undated file photo released by the U.S. Navy shows Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y. Murphy who was killed while leading a reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan received the nation's highest military award for valor _ the Medal of Honor, A warship bearing the name of the Medal of Honor winner will be christened on what would have been his 35th birthday Saturday, May 7, 2011 at Bath Iron Works, where the 9,500-ton destroyer is being built. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, File)
Medal of Honor recipient, retired Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha is seen on stage during the ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, where President Barack Obama bestowed the medal. Romesha's leadership during a daylong attack by hundreds of fighters on Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan led to award. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William D. Swenson of Seattle, Wash., during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday for his actions in a lengthy battle against Taliban insurgent in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border on Sept. 8, 2009, which claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Former Army Sgt. Kyle J. White smiles as President Barack Obama talks about him before he was awarded the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. White is a former Army sergeant who saved a fellow soldier's life and helped secure the evacuation of other wounded Americans while under persistent fire during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan. White is the seventh living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. (AP Photo)
This photo taken May 13, 2014 shows medically retired Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter lifting his shirt to show a tattoo on his side as he speaks with media at the Pentagon. The tattoo reads "Blessed be the Lord my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle. The White House announced Monday that Carpenter, 24, will receive the medal of honor on June 19. He is the 15th recipient of the medal for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, the eighth still alive. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Stephanie Shughart accepts the Medal of Honor from President Bill Clinton at the White House in Washington Monday, May 23, 1994. The president presented the medal to Mrs. Shughart in honor of her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart, who was killed in Somalia Oct. 3, 1993. Carmen Gordon, who received the medal for her husband, Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, who was also killed in Somalia, holds her daughter Brittany, 3, at left, background. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Obama awarded 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Sgt. First Class Jose Rodela is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Obama awarded 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Spc. Santiago J. Erevia is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Obama awarded 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
These images provided by the U.S. Army show World War II veterans, from left, Pvt. Pedro Cano, Master Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza and 1st Lt. Donald K. Schwab. Seeking to correct potential acts of bias spanning three wars, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, to 24 Army veterans, including Cano, Mendoza and Schwab, following a congressionally mandated review to ensure that eligible recipients were not bypassed due to prejudice. Of the 24, eight fought in the Vietnam War, nine in the Korean War and seven in World War II. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
These images provided by the U.S. Army show Korean War veterans, from left, Sgt. 1st Class Eduardo Corral Gomez, Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron and Master Sgt. Mike C. Pena. Seeking to correct potential acts of bias spanning three wars, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, to 24 Army veterans, including Gomez, Negron and Pena, following a congressionally mandated review to ensure that eligible recipients were not bypassed due to prejudice. Of the 24, eight fought in the Vietnam War, nine in the Korean War and seven in World War II. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
FILE - In this 1968 black-and-white US Air Force photo, via the Reading Eagle, Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger, a native of Hamburg, Pa., is shown during the Vietnam war. President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Etchberger, an airman killed during combat in Laos in 1968. (AP Photo/USAF, Reading Eagle)
President Barack Obama awards posthumously the Medal of Honor to Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, widow of Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., US Army, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Sabo was killed in 1970 in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Also on stage is Sabo’s brother George Sabo. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
This undated black-and-white U.S. Army photo shows Rev. Emil Kapaun. The White House says President Barack Obama will award a posthumous Medal of Honor to Kapaun, a Korean War Army chaplain credited with ministering and providing medical assistance to fellow soldiers under heavy fire during combat operations at Unsan, Korea. The award ceremony for Kapaun is scheduled for April 11. Members of Kapaun's family will attend. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
WASHINGTON - APRIL 04: Eleven year old David Smith holds his father's, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, Medal of Honor after U.S. President George W. Bush presented him with it on April 4, 2005 at the White House in Washington, DC This is only the third Medal of Honor given for actions since the Vietnam War, and the first from the Iraq war. Smith, who was killed in action, is credited with protecting the lives of scores of lightly armed American soldiers who were beyond his position in the battle, on April 4, 2003, near the gates of Baghdad International Airport. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: Joe Galloway speaks with people before US President George W Bush presented retired Army Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall with the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House 26 February 2007 in Washington, DC. Lt. Col. Crandall was honored for his actions during the Vietnam War on 14 November 1965 when he landed his unarmed helicopter 22 times to resupply and evacuate members of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment in the la Drang Valley which Galloway wrote about in 'We Were Soldiers Once...And Young'. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
N364172 01: President Clinton places the Medal of Honor on Alfred Rascon in Washington, DC February 8, 2000. After more than 30 years, Rascon, of Laurel, Md., is finally receiving the nation's highest military honor for risking his own life to save three others during the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mark Wilson)
President Bill Clinton escorts Robert ''Doc'' Ingram, after awarding him the Congressional Medal of Honor July 10, 1998 for bravery in combat during the Vietnam War. Ingram, of Jacksonville, Fl, was a 21-year-old Navy hospital corpsman when his acts of heroism on a Vietnam battlefield left him tagged for dead. (photo by Richard Ellis)
** FILE ** A portrait of Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble is displayed at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Wahpeton, N.D., in this April 4, 2006 file photo. President Bush apologized Monday, March 3, 2008, that the country waited decades to honor Keeble for his military valor in Korea, giving him the Medal of Honor more than 25 years after he died. Keeble is the first Sioux Indian to receive the nation's highest military award. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid, File)
This undated photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society shows First Lt. Alonzo Cushing. A Civil War soldier is to be honored with the nation's highest military decoration 151 years after his death.The White House announced Wednesday that President Barack Obama will give the Medal of Honor to Alonzo H. Cushing. His descendants and Civil War buffs have been pushing for the Union Army lieutenant killed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to receive the award. (AP Photo/Wisconsin Historical Society)
President Barack Obama stands with Helen Loring Ensign, 85, from Palm Desert, Calif., as he awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Obama bestowed the nation’s highest military honor to the Union Officer who was killed more the 150 years ago in the Battle of Gettysburg. Cushing died in July 1863 while standing his ground against Pickett’s Charge. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama (4th L) and Helen Loring Ensign (3rd L) of Palm Desert, California, who receives the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on behalf of Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, pose for pictures with (L-R) Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Army Secretary John McHugh, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama presented the award posthumously to Lieutenant Cushing who served as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac for his actions during combat operations in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Helen Loring Ensign (L) of Palm Desert, California, who recevies the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on behalf of Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, listen to recitation of Cushing's heroic story during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House November 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama presented the award posthumously to Lieutenant Cushing who served as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac for his actions during combat operations in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Margaret Zerwekh of Delafield, Wis. listens as President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Obama acknowledged the work of Zerwekh, a 94-year-old amateur historian from Cushing's hometown who painstakingly researched his story and lobbied Wisconsin's congressional delegation for decades. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks as he awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for conspicuous gallantry, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Obama bestowed the nation's highest military honor to the Union Officer who was killed more the 150 years ago in the Battle of Gettysburg. Cushing died in July 1863 while standing his ground against Pickett's Charge. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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