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Medal of Honor recipient sacrifices hand to save comrades, now inspires with story

Leroy Petry was on his seventh deployment when he was forced to make a split-second decision that saved the lives of his brothers-in-arms.
Leroy Petry was on his seventh deployment when he was forced to make a split-second decision that saved the lives of his brothers-in-arms.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious military award in the United States. One recipient, a retired master sergeant, now travels the country telling his story of sacrifice and bravery.

Leroy Petry was on his seventh deployment when he was forced to make a split-second decision that saved the lives of his brothers-in-arms. “We were called up to go after a high-value target,” Petry said. “We were going out during a daylight raid. Immediately when we touched down we were taking fire.”

I sat back up and my hand was completely gone.

Leroy Petry

During that operation in Afghanistan, Petry was shot in the thigh by enemy fire. While taking cover with fellow soldiers, he noticed a grenade. “I turned around to check on them and there was a pineapple grenade sitting behind them,” he said. “I saw it as a threat. It wasn’t there before and I immediately reached over and grabbed it and attempted to throw it away from us. As I opened my hand to release it it exploded and I sat back up and my hand was completely gone.”

Even after being shot in both legs and losing the hand, Petry said he still wanted to fight. “[They] came up to me and said ‘hey we need to check you out’ and I said ‘I’m good; I already have the tourniquet to stop the bleeding, help those guys,’” Petry said. “He said ‘we got somebody helping them. We need someone to look at your legs.’ I completely forgot about my legs. I looked down and saw my pants were soaked in blood to my boots and mentally I wanted to stay in the fight, but physically I knew I was running low on juice.”

The people that sacrificed before me that gave me this opportunity.

Leroy Petry

Today, Petry travels the country with his prosthetic hand, sharing his story.

“As a recipient, you get the opportunity to come out and talk to troops veterans, youth, you name it,” Petry said. “Anywhere I get a chance to talk, I talk about the sacrifice, commitment, integrity and everything that goes into the military with serving our country and what it meant to me to serve. The people that sacrificed before me that gave me this opportunity.”

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