After confronting a suicide bomber, this soldier must swap running for the Medal of Honor

After confronting a suicide bomber, this soldier must swap running for the Medal of Honor

Army Capt. Florent Groberg had a weird feeling about the mission as soon as his team arrived by helicopter that morning in Afghanistan’s Konar province. Something seemed out of place. Someone, he surmised, was out to get them.

Minutes later, Groberg made a split-second decision and rushed at a man who was strangely backpedaling toward the Army patrol. Groberg didn’t know for sure there was a suicide vest underneath the man’s dark clothing until he grabbed him by the chest — and by then, his only choice was to bring him to the ground right before the man detonated.

U.S. Army 1st. Lt. Florent A. Groberg, officer in charge for personal security detail, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division enjoys the view from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter traveling over the Kunar province July 16, 2012.

“Today, we honor Flo because his actions prevented an even greater catastrophe,” President Obama said. “You see, by pushing the bomber away from the formation, the explosion occurred farther from our forces, and on the ground instead of in the open air. And while Flo didn’t know it at the time, that explosion also caused a second unseen bomb to detonate before it was in place. Had both bombs gone off as planned, who knows how many would have been killed?”

Groberg, who made a name for himself as a runner at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md., and later at the University of Maryland-College Park, suffered life-threatening wounds to his left leg that led to 33 surgeries, he told The Washington Post in an interview last week. Surgeons saved his leg, but he is unable to run now because half of his calf muscle was blown off, he said.

The ceremony included a number of somber moments. Family members of three service members killed that day – Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 46; Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35; Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38 — stood and were recognized.

 

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