Sal Giunta grew up in Iowa, a typical American middle-class boy. He played sports, had a job, and was an average student. September 11, 2001 changed all of that. After high school, he joined the Army and opted for the excitement of Airborne Infantry. He was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy. In March 2005, he was enthusiastic about deploying to Afghanistan for the first time, but seeing Soldiers die really changed his perspective. As his Chinook lifted off from Afghanistan in March 2006, at the end of his first deployment, he took a deep breath and experienced a feeling of real freedom, looking forward to the life he was about to begin. Then “stop-loss” kicked in, and he was retained for the brigade’s next deployment in 2007. At first the Sky Soldiers trained for Iraq, and then they were informed that they were returning to Afghanistan. Sal Giunta certainly did not want to return to Afghanistan, but he did his duty, and in May 2007, he deployed to the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. In October, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry executed Operation Rock Avalanche, and on October 25th, eight members of Giunta’s platoon walked into an “L-shaped” ambush. For his actions that night, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In this interview, he describes his childhood, Basic Training, and life as a young Soldier in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He discusses his two deployments to Afghanistan, and examines the events of the night of October 25, 2007. Finally, he talks about what the Medal of Honor and his military service mean to him.