The Los Angeles Kings welcome and honor Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta. President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Giunta, 25, during a White House ceremony on November 16, 2010.
On Monday, January 10, he will honored as part of the Kings’ Hero of the Game program during the Kings-Toronto Maple Leafs game at STAPLES Center (game time is 7:30 p.m.).
Giunta has deployed twice, both times to Afghanistan. The first deployment was from March 2005 to March 2006, and his second from May 2007 to July 2008. Staff Sgt. Giunta was inducted in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes during a Pentagon ceremony Nov. 17. He is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan and the first living recipient for actions that occurred since Vietnam. His military decorations include the Bronze Star; the Purple Heart; among many others
Staff Sgt. Giunta was assigned to Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment serving as a rifle team leader when he engaged the enemy to recover a wounded Soldier that the enemy was trying to take prisoner on Oct. 25, 2007. After throwing hand grenades at the enemy positions in order to suppress them, Giunta moved forward without hesitation into what had been enemy fighting position only moments before. Giunta engaged two enemy fighters and then rescued his wounded comrade and assisted in keeping him alive before the Soldier eventually succumbed to his wounds. Giunta’s unwavering courage, in the midst of an ambush in which two American paratroopers gave their lives and several more were wounded, embodied the highest ideals of the Army Values. His selflessness and leadership above and beyond the call of duty exemplify the strength of the Nation.
He was recently profiled by CBS’ 60 Minutes and while in Southern California he will be making public appearances at Universal Studios and at Disneyland.
Staff Sgt. Giunta will be Kings’ special guest as will his fellow noncommissioned officer SSG Erick Gallardo. Staff Sgt. Gallardo, who is from Chula Vista, is currently assigned as the weapons squad leader in 1st platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry. As a weapons squad leader he is responsible for the health, morale, welfare, training and accountability of a 9-man weapons squad and works side-by-side with the platoon leader in assisting with planning and execution of all platoon missions and emplacement of the platoon’s machine guns.
Staff Sgt. Gallardo has participated in several deployments throughout his career to include: four combat deployment’s OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. SSG Gallardo was awarded the Silver Star Medal. He has also received the Bronze Star Medal twice among many others decorations.