In just a few weeks, at a ceremony at the White House on November 12, Army Captain Florent Groberg will be awarded our nation’s highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. The 32-year-old French-born officer will be the 10th living recipient of the award for service in the Afghan theater of the War on Terror.
While serving in Afghanistan in 2012, Groberg was in charge of a personal security detail for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division. In this capacity, he was tasked with leading the men who provide protection for many of the unit’s key leaders, including the brigade commander.
During a key leader engagement between some of his unit’s key leaders with the provincial governor in Asadabad, Kunar province, Groberg noticed something was wrong. When he and his team entered the governor’s compound, they saw an Afghan acting suspiciously. Moments later, the man, who turned out to be a suicide bomber, rushed Groberg’s brigade commander.
Thinking quickly, Groberg and one of his non-commissioned officers, Sergeant Andrew Mahoney, rushed the suicide bomber and managed to tackle him to the ground just as his explosive-laden vest went off. The explosion rocked the compound, killing the brigade command sergeant major (the senior non-commissioned officer in the brigade), a State Department official, and two other soldiers. Groberg and Mahoney were both wounded, with Groberg’s injuries being more severe.
Talk about dedication to duty. Groberg was assigned a task. He was to protect the brigade commander and other leaders in his command team. He, as well as Mahoney, were willing to lay down their lives in order to save those they were charged with protecting. Through their actions, they both embodied the Army Warrior Ethos’ statement: “I will always place the mission first.”
Miraculously, both men recovered from the wounds they suffered on that day. Captain Groberg spent three years recovering in a military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, not far from where he grew up. For his actions, Sergeant Mahoney was awarded the Silver Star. Now, after three years, Captain Groberg will receive the honor he has most certainly earned.
Americans are so fortunate to have people like this fighting for our country. Their dedication, patriotism, and above all, their bravery are examples for us all..
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