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Devils celebrate U.S. Army specialist

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils
U.S. Army Specialist David Giraud, with sons Angel (10) and Jadiel (5) wave as Giraud receives a standing ovation from the fans at Prudential Center. Giraud served for 10 years, including a 1 year tour of duty in Afghanistan. Photo by Jonathan Le

The New Jersey Devils honored U.S. Army Specialist David Giraud as its Hero of the Game as the Devils defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at Prudential Center on Nov. 14.

Spc. Giraud, 33, first came to the United States from Puerto Rico in 2003 when he enlisted. Service runs deep in Giraud’s family, as his father served in the Army and retired two years ago from the reserves. “I’ve got two aunts and two uncles in the Air Force, Army and Marines,” Giraud added. A year before enlisting, Giraud decided to try to follow his father’s footsteps and serve his country. Joining the army gave him that chance.

With Spanish as his native language, Spc. Giraud achieved proficiency with English through an Army English school at Lackland Air Force Base, in Texas, before attending basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. After basic training, Giraud went back to Lackland for Advanced Individual Training.

Once he completed his training, Spc. Giraud was stationed back at Fort Leonard Wood, assigned to help train new soldiers for duty. After shifting into the reserves, Giraud was stationed at Fort Dix, in New Jersey until he was deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010.

“I wanted to go [to Afghanistan.] I wanted to serve, but the units I was assigned to during active duty had other priorities,” Spc. Giraud explained. Once overseas, Giraud said he did a little bit of everything between providing protection for others to engineering.

“We’re engineers,” Spc. Giraud said, describing the 994th Engineering Company he was assigned to. “We construct roads, buildings…we also did a little bit of reconstruction when our base got attacked.” Giraud and his team built field hospitals, as well. Based in southern Afghanistan near Kandahar, Giraud also built security checkpoints so that local law enforcement could implement security in the active region during the Taliban insurgency.

After returning from Afghanistan in March 2011, Spc. Giraud stayed with the Army reserves until 2013, before leaving the military to become a pharmacy technician. “Before I enlisted, I was going to school for it in Puerto Rico, and when I returned from deployment, a part of me wanted to finish what I started years ago.”

Spc. Giraud was surprised when he learned he’d be honored at the game. “I just served my country, but there’s other people who save peoples’ lives,” Giraud said humbly. He can list other types of people who he’d call more deserving, but appreciated the recognition.

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