Leroy Petry

  • Aired:  07/14/11
  •  | Views: 48,379

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry talks about losing his hand in Afghanistan, what it means to be a leader, and returning to serve a sixth tour of duty. (8:03)

TONIGHT.

HE WAS AWARDED THE MEDAL OF

HONOR BY PRESIDENT OBAMA ON

TUESDAY.

PLEASE WELCOME ARMY SERGEANT

FIRST CLASS LEROY PETRY.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

THANKS FOR COMING.

APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: WE'RE HONORED TO HAVE

YOU ON THE PROGRAM.

BEFORE WE GET INTO THE STORY OF

WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY IN

AFGHANISTAN, MAY I JUST SAY,

THAT HAND IS SUPER COOL.

HOW DID YOU... WHEN I SHOOK YOUR

HAND, IT CURLED AROUND MY HAND

WITH A STRONGER GRIP THAN I

HAVE.

>> IT'S DESIGNED TO CONFORM TO

DIFFERENT OBJECTS THAT ACTUALLY

STOPS WHEN EACH FINGER MEETS

RESISTANCE TO GIVE YOU MORE

DEXTERITY.

WHEN I ACTUALLY LOST IT, I

THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO HAVE A

HOOK, AND I WAS FINE WITH THAT

BECAUSE I LOST IT THE WAY I

WANTED TO, BUT THEY GAVE ME THIS

HAND, AND I GOT... IT'S AMAZING

AND IT'S GETTING BETTER.

>> Jon: DO YOU HAVE ONE THAT

CAN... LET'S SAY YOU'RE IN

TRAFFIC...

[LAUGHTER]

THERE'S A PROBLEM.

>> I USE THE GOOD HAND.

>> Jon: ALL RIGHT.

FAIR ENOUGH.

THE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED IN

AFGHANISTAN, IT'S AN INCREDIBLE

ONE.

WOULD YOU MIND IF WE JUST WENT

THROUGH IT BRIEFLY.

>> SURE.

>> Jon: YOU WERE ON DAY

MISSION.

>> YES, SIR.

>> Jon: AND IT WAS A RAID.

IS THAT UNUSUAL TO BE ON A DAY

RAID LIKE THAT?

>> FOR US IT IS UNUSUAL.

>> Jon: YOU'RE AN ARMY RANGER.

>> YEAH, WE DON'T NORMALLY DO

DAYLIGHT RAIDS, BUT THE

NECESSITY TO GET OUT THERE AND

GET THIS HIGH VALUE TARGET AND

THE TIME OF DAY, WE HAD TO ACT

ON IT.

>> Jon: IN THE BEGINNING OF

IT, YOU ARE WOUNDED EARLY ON IN

THE FIGHT?

>> YES, SHOT THROUGH BOTH

THIGHS.

I ACTUALLY DIDN'T REALIZE IT

UNTIL I GOT TO THE MEDICS LATER,

BUT I THOUGHT I WAS JUST SHOT IN

THE LEFT LEG.

IT HAD STUCK IN THERE OR

SOMETHING.

I DIDN'T FEEL IT GO ALL THE WAY

THROUGH BOTH LEGS.

SO I WAS RUNNING AROUND DOING

THINGS FOR A LITTLE BIT.

[LAUGHTER]

I KNOW THAT SOUNDS ODD.

>> Jon: I COULD STOP YOU

THERE.

AND BE VERY PROUD OF YOUR

SERVICE AND ALL YOU DID.

SO IN THIS... NOW, YOU ARE

REALLY A VETERAN IN THIS GROUP.

YOU HAVE BEEN TO AFGHANISTAN.

THIS WAS YOUR SIXTH TOUR.

AND YOU HAD TWO TOURS IN IRAQ.

>> ACTUALLY, IT WAS MY FIFTH

TOUR.

I'VE BEEN BACK SINCE.

>> Jon: YOU'VE BEEN BACK TO

AFGHANISTAN FOR ANOTHER TOUR

SINCE YOU WERE WOUNDED?

>> YES.

>> Jon: YOU'RE LUKE SKYWALKER.

THAT'S WHO YOU ARE.

THAT'S WHAT THIS IS.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

THAT'S WHO YOU ARE.

THAT'S UNBELIEVABLE.

ALL RIGHT.

SO NOW YOU HAVE BEEN WOUNDED IN

BOTH LEGS.

YOU'VE GOT... THESE ARE YOUNGER

FELLAS.

THEY'RE LOOKING TO YOU FOR

LEADERSHIP.

ARE YOU STILL FUNCTIONING IN A

CAPACITY IN THAT MOMENT?

>> YES.

>> Jon: HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

IS IT TRAINING?

IS IT JUST THERE'S A CERTAIN

SOMETHING IN YOU THAT WOULDN'T

GIVE UP?

>> IT'S TRAINING AND IT'S THE

FACT THAT WE'RE ALL BROTHERS OUT

THERE, AND YOU WOULDN'T... JUST

LIKE I WOULDN'T GIVE UP ON ONE

OF MY CHILDREN, I WOULDN'T GIVE

UP ON MY BROTHERS.

AND THAT'S THIS WAY I LOOKED AT

IT OUT THERE.

AND THE WAY A BIRD TAKES CARE OF

IT YOUNG ONE, FEEDS THEM UNTIL

THEY CAN GROW AND HOPES THAT

THEY BECOME GOOD LEADERS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> IT'S JUST MENTORING.

AND I WAS TAKING CARE OF MY OWN

THAT DAY.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

INCREDIBLE.

AND IN THIS MOMENT, THE ENEMY

THROWS A GRENADE.

>> YES.

>> Jon: AND TO GIVE PEOPLE A

SENSE, DO WE HAVE LIKE A

RENDERING OF THE COMPOUND THAT

YOU'RE IN THAT YOU'RE FIGHTING.

THIS IS THE COURTYARD.

ARE YOU IN THE INNER COURTYARD

AT THIS POINT, THE OUTER

COURTYARD BY THE CHICKEN COOP?

>> THE INNER COURTYARD.

WE'RE ON THE... WELL, I CAN'T

TELL WHICH WAY THAT NORTH ARROW

IS POINTING.

>> Jon: WE PURPOSELY MADE THAT

TO CONFUSE THE ENTIRE ISSUE.

I THINK IT'S POINTING TOWARDS

FLORIDA, BUT I'M NOT SURE WHY.

SO THE ENEMY, WHEN THEY'RE ABLE

TO SEND A GRENADE YOUR WAY,

YOU'RE IN LOBBING DISTANCE OF

THE ENEMY.

AND THESE GUYS ARE NOT

PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYERS.

YOU'RE LIKE 20 FEET, 30 FEET

AWAY FROM THESE GUYS.

>> THE CEILING OF THE BUILDING

WAS ONLY ABOUT EIGHT FEET HIGH.

SO IT WAS EASY FOR THEM TO THROW

IT OVER I GUESS.

>> Jon: SO A GRENADE LANDS,

AND I'VE ALWAYS SAID THERE ARE

TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS

WORLD, PEOPLE THAT WHEN A

GRENADE LANDS, THEY GO "GRENADE

"GRENADE"!

AND PEOPLE WHO KEEP THEIR WITS

ABOUT THEM.

IN THAT MOMENT, WHAT'S GOING

THROUGH YOUR MIND?

>> THERE WAS A SPLIT SECOND.

I TURNED OVER, LOOKED, I SAW IT

AND I KNEW IT WASN'T ONE OF OURS

BECAUSE IT WAS THE OLD PINEAPPLE

GRENADE.

FIRST THING THAT WENT THROUGH MY

MIND IS GET IT OUT OF HERE, GET

I AWAY FROM MY GUYS AND ME.

THAT'S WHAT I DID.

I REACHED FOR IT AND STARTED TO

THROW IT AND AS SOON AS I OPENED

THE HAND, THAT WAS THE LAST

THING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE

HAND DISAPPEARED.

>> Jon: DO YOU AT THAT POINT

PASS OUT?

IS THAT...

>> NO, NO.

THEY ASK YOU A LOT OF TIMES IF

YOU HAD A CONCUSSION, AND I

SAID, HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU

HAVE A CONCUSSION.

YOU DON'T HAVE A SENSE OF TIME.

IF YOU HAVE A CONCUSSION, IT'S

DARK OUT WHEN YOU WAKE UP, YOU

KNOW YOU HAD A CONCUSSION, BUT

IF NOBODY ELSE SEES IT, YOU

DON'T KNOW.

BUT I SAT BACK UP FOR WHAT

SEEMED LIKE SPLIT SECONDS, AND I

GRABBED MY ARM.

IT WAS... THE HAND LOOKED LIKE A

CIRCULAR SAW HAD TAKEN IT OFF.

IT WAS FLAT AT THE TOP AND

COMPLETELY GONE.

I WAS LIKE... THAT'S THE PART

THAT DIDN'T GET ME.

I GRABBED IT AND I LOOKED AT IT

AND I SAID, WHY ISN'T THIS

SPRAYING OFF INTO THE WIND LIKE

IN HOLLYWOOD MOVIES.

[LAUGHTER]

>> Jon: SO IN THIS MOMENT

YOU'RE SOMEWHAT DISAPPOINTED

IT'S NOT AS GORY AS YOU SAW, NOT

QUITE AS SPLURTY AS WHAT YOU'D

BEEN LED TO BELIEVE?

>> WELL, I FIGURED I HAD... I

WAS LIKE, WOW, I GOT A LOT OF

TIME.

IT'S NOT BLEEDING THAT BAD.

BUT I GUESS WITH THE TRAUMATIC

INJURY, THE NERVES TUCK BACK AND

ALL THE ADRENALINE AND... I

DIDN'T FEEL ANY PAIN.

SO I GRABBED... I WENT TO MY

MILITARY TRAINING, GRABBED MY

TOURNIQUET AND WAS ABLE TO APPLY

A TOURNIQUET, GET ON THE RADIO

AND CONTINUE TELLING MY

LEADERSHIP WHAT WAS GOING ON.

>> Jon: YOU APPLIED YOUR OWN

TOURNIQUET.

>> YES.

>> Jon: AND STAYED IN COMMAND

OF... WOW.

I MEAN, I'M HONESTLY SPEECHLESS.

IT'S A REMARKABLE STORY, AND THE

ONE THING, AS REMARKABLE AS THE

HEROISM IN THAT IS, IS YOUR

REMARKABLE HEROISM AND YOUR

BROTHERS AND ALL THE SERVICE

PEOPLE, AS EXTRAORDINARY AS YOUR

ACTS WERE, WHAT'S REALLY

EXTRAORDINARY IS YOUR ORDINARY

SERVICE, THE SIX TOURS IN

AFGHANISTAN AND THE TWO TOURS IN

IRAQ AND ALL THAT YOU'VE DONE

WITHOUT COMMENDATION.

I'M SO PLEASED AND HONORED THAT

YOU WOULD HERE TODAY.

I JUST WANTED TO THANK YOU

PERSONALLY FOR NOT JUST YOUR

HEROISM BUT JUST YOUR SERVICE,

WHICH IS EXTRAORDINARY IN AND OF

ITSELF.

I THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING

HERE.

DO YOU HAVE A COUPLE MINUTES?

WE'LL TALK A LITTLE BIT.

WE'RE GOING TO THROW IT UP ON

THE WEB, THE SECOND PART.

WE'RE GOING TO STAY HERE.

IT'S JUST AN HONOR TO SEE YOU,

SIR.

SERGEANT FIRST CLASS LEROY

PETRY.

WE'RE GOING TO

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