Florent “Flo” Groberg was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama on Thursday morning, the highest and most prestigious award that can be earned by military personnel. The ceremony was the second time that President Obama had met the hero–the first coming after one of Florent’s 33 surgeries he went through to save his leg.
This is his story:
On the day of August 8th, 2012, Army Captain Groberg of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division was leading a personnel security for seven American and Afghani leaders walking through the streets of Assabadad, Afghanistan. That’s when he spotted a suicide bomber running towards those under his charge and “instinct took over.”
“As Groberg grabbed the intruder by the vest and Mahoney piled on to drive the man into the road, Groberg knew what was about to happen. From the point of identifying the security breach to reacting took about 10 seconds.
The man landed chest-first on the ground. As he slammed onto the road, he released a dead-man’s trigger, which he had squeezed and held before walking towards the Soldiers. The vest flashed, sending thousands of lethal ball-bearings flying [source].”
Then a second suicide bomber detonated his vest at nearly the exact same time.
The twin detonations killed five of Groberg’s friends and brothers in arms that day. Groberg and another soldier who had tackled the terrorist were thrown fifteen feet back from the explosion. Groberg himself miraculously only (relative use of the word) suffered a shredded leg and serious nerve damage.
But the seasoned Ranger veteran knew that he was at his most vulnerable out in the open, with his fibia protruding from his leg, skin melting and blood everywhere. If there were any insurgents around with small arms, he posed an easy target. That’s when he started dragging himself out of the kill zone into temporary safety.
The next three years wouldn’t be much easier. Groberg has been through a total of 33 surgeries to keep his leg, and he’s determined to be able to run again.
Let’s face it: stories like Groberg’s are exciting to read to people like us because they demonstrate the bravery and courage our soldiers have when they face the enemy. But once the literal and figurative dust settles, these soldiers must deal with all the trauma that comes after experiencing an event like that. This is why it’s so important that we support all of our troops, all the time. Not just the Medal of Honor winners. Not just on Veterans Day. So Florent Groberg to Florent Groberg and all of those who have protected us and continue to protect us, thank you for your service.