U. S. Army Capt. Florent A. Groberg Awarded Congressional Medal Of Honor During Veterans Day Ceremony

Retired U.S. Army Captain Florent A. Groberg received the Congressional Medal of Honor during a Veterans Day ceremony at the White House from President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Capt. Groberg will also be inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes during a ceremony on Friday.

Capt. Groberg was decreed the Medal of Honor for his actions in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on August 8, 2012, when he tackled a suicide bomber targeting his patrol unit, shoving the bomber away from the patrol before he could detonate his bomb. An unnoticed second suicide bomber prematurely detonated his vest after noticing the result of the initial attack. The first blast killed three American servicemen and a civilian, but Groberg’s quick actions ultimately saved many more lives. Groberg suffered extensive damage to his left leg in the blast, along with a blown eardrum and mild traumatic brain injury.

Groberg was called a symbol “of the sacrifices made by every generation of veterans” by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Captain Groberg acted in a manner that saved the lives of many of his comrades. Tragically, he could not save them all,” McDonald said. “When he was informed last month that he would receive the Medal of Honor, he said, and I quote, ‘This medal belongs to them. It’s my mission to tell everyone thank you for recognizing me, but this does not belong to me. It belongs to them. That’s how I’m coping with it mentally.’ ”

Groberg underwent almost thirty surgeries over three years while at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to repair his left leg, and for the grueling physical therapy sessions afterwards. While the injury ended his Army career, Groberg says he can’t complain, even though his leg is constantly sore, and he requires the use of a brace quite often.

“I took an injury that cost about 45 to 50 percent of my calf, it made my leg below my knee numb, I can’t feel my toes, they tied all my ligaments together, fused my foot,” he said. “I am lucky to be standing and be able to do this today because of the incredible care that I received at Walter Reed.”

Groberg, an infantry officer with Fort Carson, Colorado’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is the third Medal of Honor recipient from that unit, and the tenth living service member to receive the award for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq, according to the Army Times. After President Obama called him to tell him he would be receiving the Medal of Honor, Groberg said he was unsure about how he felt, and found it difficult being congratulated for the award.

“It’s one of those things where you’re confused on the inside a little bit for how to feel about it,” he said. “You’re receiving an award for the worst day of your life, a day that you lost four incredible individuals, a day that I’ll never forget, that lives on every day when you wake up.”

Groberg was the officer in charge of the security detail for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Col. James Mingus on the day of the suicide bomber attack. Mingus, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, were visiting soldiers in their area of operation, with Groberg and his security detail escorting them through the area.

Medal of Honor Citation

“The President of the United States of America, authorized by act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Captain Florent A. Groberg, United States Army.

“Captain Florent A. Groberg distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a personal security detachment commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on August 8, 2012.

“On that day, Captain Groberg was leading a dismounted movement consisting of several senior leaders to include two brigade commanders, two battalion commanders, two command sergeants major, and an Afghanistan National Army brigade commander.

“As they approached the provincial governor’s compound, Captain Groberg observed an individual walking close to the formation. While the individual made an abrupt turn towards the formation, he noticed an abnormal bulge underneath the individual’s clothing. Selflessly placing himself in front of one of the brigade commanders, Captain Groberg rushed forward using his body to push the suspect away from the formation. Simultaneously, he ordered another member of the security detail to assist with removing the suspect. At this time, Captain Groberg confirmed the bulge was a suicide vest. And with complete disregard for this life, Captain Groberg, again, with the assistance of the other member of the security detail, physically pushed the suicide bomber away from the formation.

“Upon falling, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside of the perimeter of the formation, killing four members of the formation and wounding numerous others. The blast from the first suicide bomb caused the suicide vest of a previously unnoticed second suicide bomber to detonate prematurely with minimal impact on the formation.

“Captain Groberg’s immediate actions to push the first suicide bomber away from the formation significantly minimized the impact of the coordinated suicide bombers’ attack on the formation, saving the lives of his comrades and several senior leaders.

“Captain Groberg’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of his life on keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, and the United States Army.”

Killed in the attack were U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, U.S. Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, U.S. Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, and USAID Foreign Service Officer Mr. Ragaei Abdelfattah.

Groberg has recounted “the worst day of his life” in a video and detailed article on this Army.mil Features page. His Friday Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony will be broadcast live on dvidshub.net at 10 a.m. EST.

[Image by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]

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