Friday, February 23, 2018
Military News

Two Medal of Honor recipients recognized at MacDill

TAMPA — Both put their lives on the line in Afghanistan to save comrades during battles in 2008.

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry picked up a live grenade during a firefight with the Taliban. It exploded in his hand as he threw it back toward the enemy. Petry saved two fellow Rangers. He lived but lost his right hand.

Four months later, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller ordered his men back to cover during a Taliban ambush. Miller charged the enemy but was cut down and killed.

The Army sergeants earned the nation's highest decoration: the Medal of Honor.

Miller, 24, and Petry, now 33, were recognized during a ceremony Wednesday at a memorial outside U.S. Special Operations Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base. Their names were placed on a wall honoring Special Forces troops who have earned the Medal of Honor.

President Barack Obama had previously presented the Medal of Honor to Miller's family in 2010 and to Petry in 2011.

"Today is about much more than just pomp and circumstance," Adm. William McRaven, SOCom chief, told a crowd. "This is about honoring the people and stories that breathe life into the granite walls that surround us. The black stone preserves and promotes our heritage."

The ceremony was attended by Miller's two sisters and parents, Maureen and Philip Miller. Petry, his right hand replaced by a high-tech prosthesis, attended with his wife, Ashley.

Petry, a native of New Mexico, was only the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor in action during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Obama presented him with it at the White House, Petry showed the president a small plaque bolted to the prosthetic with the names of fallen Rangers.

The action that nearly killed Petry occurred during a raid of a Taliban compound. He was taking cover with two other Rangers when a grenade fell at their feet.

Petry, already shot through his legs, grabbed it.

"I threw it with all my force," Petry said. "As soon as my hand opened up, the grenade exploded. The hand was completely gone like it had been severed with circular saw."

He applied a tourniquet and continued to coordinate support by radio.

McRaven said Petry, who plans to stay in the Army, still volunteers for combat. But the military traditionally does not return living Medal of Honor recipients to the fighting.

Petry said he was humbled to be honored with Miller.

On Jan. 25, 2008, Miller led a squad toward a narrow valley when an enemy force opened up.

"With total disregard for his own safety," the Medal of Honor citation says, Miller "called for his men to quickly move back to covered positions as he charged the enemy over exposed ground … to provide protective fire."

Miller, a native of Pennsylvania whose family now lives in the Orlando area, continued fighting even after being shot in the upper body and killed at least 10 insurgents before dying.

"His legacy," Petry said, "will live on forever."

William R. Levesque can be reached at (813) 226-3432.

Comments
Iraqi general who helped defeat ISIS returns to Tampa for commando award

Iraqi general who helped defeat ISIS returns to Tampa for commando award

PALM HARBOR — Four years ago, during a visit to Tampa, Iraqi Staff Gen. Talib Shgati Mshari Al Kenani issued a warning to military leaders here about a jihadi group calling itself the Islamic State.This week, Al Kenani, head of the Iraqi commando for...
Published: 02/23/18
Howard Altman: Expert from Lutz finds U.S. ill prepared for conflict in Korea

Howard Altman: Expert from Lutz finds U.S. ill prepared for conflict in Korea

Rick Lamb, who spent a good part of the past two years in South Korea assessing the state of U.S. forces on the peninsula, was taken aback by what he discovered."Overall, I was surprised how much it atrophied," said Lamb, a retired Army Ranger comman...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
Syria’s starved, rebellious suburb under attack

Syria’s starved, rebellious suburb under attack

BEIRUT — The airstrikes came at a rate of one a minute, with horrible results: civilians fleeing collapsing buildings, children trapped under slabs of concrete, paramedics grimly rushing the bloodied victims away on stretchers. At least 100 people we...
Published: 02/20/18
Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Commando leaders from around the globe are coming to Pinellas County this week to discuss common threats in an increasingly unstable world.Most European Union members "are either growing or reinforcing" their special operations forces, French Maj. Ge...
Published: 02/20/18
Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Commando leaders from around the globe are coming to Pinellas County this week to discuss common threats in an increasingly unstable world.Most European Union members "are either growing or reinforcing" their special operations forces, French Maj. Ge...
Published: 02/20/18
ISIS ambush kills at least 27 Iraqi Shiite-led fighters

ISIS ambush kills at least 27 Iraqi Shiite-led fighters

BAGHDAD — Islamic State militants ambushed a group of Iraq’s Shiite-led paramilitary fighters, killing at least 27, more than two months after Baghdad declared victory over the extremist group, officials said Monday The Popular Mobilization Forces, a...
Published: 02/19/18
Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

TAMPA — Army Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas III, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, had a court-side epiphany last July at the United Center in Chicago while watching the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games. So impressed w...
Published: 02/19/18
Howard Altman: Later AirFest good for fundraising

Howard Altman: Later AirFest good for fundraising

On May 12 and 13, the skies above MacDill Air Force Base will be busier than usual, with Navy F-18s, Air Force F-22s and A-10s and a host of civilian stunt pilots performing impressive feats of aerobatics.It’s all part of the semi-regular Tampa Bay C...
Published: 02/16/18
VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds

VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general ...
Published: 02/14/18
Trump seeks 11 percent SOCom budget increase

Trump seeks 11 percent SOCom budget increase

President Donald Trump’s proposed military budget includes a nearly 11 percent spending increase for U.S. Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base.The measure, if approved by Congress, would bump up the command’s budget by 1...
Published: 02/12/18