Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living military member to be awarded with a Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, praised police officers Thursday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Foundation’s annual luncheon, telling them their service represents the same values he was recognized for.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Giunta received the Medal of Honor in 2010 for his actions in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. The rifle team leader, who was 22 at the time, courageously fought through enemy fire to pull a squad member back to safety when his infantry regiment was ambushed by insurgents in 2007. He also saved another soldier who was being carried away by enemy insurgents.
“This medal that I wear around my neck isn’t about camouflage or guns – it’s about service,” Giunta said. “As police officers you see that every day. (Military servicemen) would not go to lands far and wide to try to save the world if the home-front was not safe. This medal is for you – people that give of themselves only because it makes the world a better place.”
Giunta cites the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which he watched on TV during his high school chemistry class, as his motivation to join the army.
“It was a direct attack on America,” he said. “Not just on camouflage-wearing soldiers, but on our citizens, people just living their lives.”
The foundation helps raise money for the police department that is not funded by the city’s budget. Contributions the foundation have made include helping the police buy body cameras and a crime lab that uses DNA evidence to solve cold cases.