Young Soldiers meet Medal of Honor recipient
25 DINFOS students travel to Meadowlands to meet Giunta, take in football game
By Lisa R. Rhodes
The Soldiers saluted and shook hands with Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta on Nov. 21 before the start of a New York Jets vs. Houston Texans football game at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
"It was really cool," said Pvt. David Johnson, 22. "He stopped and talked to me and asked my military occupation specialty."
Johnson said Giunta, like the Soldiers, was excited to see a live National Football League game.
"He was like a big kid to see the game," he said.
After meeting Giunta, the Soldiers, dressed in Class A uniforms, joined other service members from all the military branches in uncasing the colors on the field before kickoff. The patriotic activity was part of the national observance of Military Family Appreciation Month.
"It was an opportunity for Soldiers who are just getting into the Army to met a living hero," said 1st Sgt. Dexter Clouden, DINFOS Student Company first sergeant, who helped coordinate the event. "This will stay with these kids for the remainder of their military careers."
Clouden said the students are waiting to begin classes at DINFOS and that the event, organized by the Army's Office of the Chief of Public Affairs for the Northeast Region, was part of their training.
They traveled by van to the stadium and uncased the colors during the pre-game festivities and during halftime. The young service members also watched the game.
Sgt. Wallace Ruffin, senior platoon sergeant for the unit, said the Soldiers were selected to participate through a raffle -- their names were picked at random from a hat.
Pvt. William Harvilla said it was an honor to meet someone of Giunta's caliber.
"He was not someone you were afraid to approach," said Harvilla, 23. "It didn't seem like [receiving the Medal of Honor] changed him from being a regular Soldier."
Giunta was awarded the country's highest honor for military personnel from President Barack Obama on Nov. 16. He was recognized for his actions on Oct. 27, 2007, when he pursued insurgents in Afghanistan who had captured and severely wounded Sgt. Joshua Brennan during a deadly firefight.
Giunta, then a specialist, killed one insurgent and injured the other. While still under enemy fire, Giunta then administered first aid to Brennan, who later died.
"I felt honored," said Pvt. 1st Class Samantha Millington, 25, about meeting Giunta. "He even enjoyed the same boxed lunch as we did."
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