Make us your home page

The hand of a hero

The soldier in uniform extended his prosthetic hand after losing his own in battle. And the commander in chief reached out to clasp it. It was a sobering moment during a moving ceremony at the White House Tuesday, as President Barack Obama awarded the nation's highest military honor to Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry for his brave actions to protect his comrades in the firefight that cost him his right hand. Petry had been shot in the legs and had fallen. But as grenades came flying toward him and his comrades, he picked one up, which exploded before he was able to toss it. "This is the stuff of which heroes are made," the president declared, before reaching out and shaking Petry's gray, robotic hand, which helped the soldier to remain active in the military and even redeploy to Afghanistan despite his serious injury. As the United States nears a decade of fighting in Afghanistan and the country honors a man who gave his right hand in service to his country, here is a partial accounting.

4 Number of Medals of Honor awarded for action in Afghanistan.

2 Number of Medal of Honor winners from action in Afghanistan who lived to receive their honor.

1,552 Number of American troops who have died fighting in Afghanistan.

55 Percentage of the American dead who were 25 or younger.

12 Percentage of Americans 18 to 24 who can find Afghanistan on a map.

57 Number of Americans killed in Afghanistan so far this summer.

$444 billion Cost of Afghan war to U.S. taxpayers

99,000 Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

800 Number of Afghan insurgent attacks in most recent week.

12,593 Americans wounded in action in Afghanistan.

$1.283 trillion Cost of Afghan, Iraqi wars for U.S. taxpayers.

1 Percentage of that total that will go to medical care for veterans.

The other service member who was alive to receive his Medal of Honor for action in Afghanistan is Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, left, who received the honor in the fall.

Compiled by Times news researcher Natalie Watson. Sources: Brookings Institution, Afghanistan Index; Associated Press; Congressional Research Service; Defense Department

The hand of a hero 07/13/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 5:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours