By John McAdams via wideopenspaces.com
Captain Florent Groberg will be awarded the Medal of Honor for single-handedly attacking a suicide bomber while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. Though he was severely wounded in the process, his actions saved the lives of countless others. Groberg was serving as the officer in charge of the personal security detachment for the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at the time of the incident for which he earned the Medal of Honor . . .
The brigade commander was on the way to a meeting with the governor of Kunar Province when Groberg identified a suspicious looking man stalking the group of American soldiers. The man was paralleling the patrol and walking backwards, which caught Groberg’s attention. When he confronted the man he quickly realized something was amiss:
I dropped my rifle … [and] I grabbed him by the chest and realized, at that point, ‘Oh, he’s got a suicide bomb on, he’s got a bomb. The only thing I could think of was, ‘I have to get him away. I have to get him away from the boss. I have to get him away from everybody.’
Groberg reacted immediately and pushed the man away, throwing him to the ground. Right after the man landed on the ground, his suicide vest detonated.
The blast threw Groberg 15 to 20 feet, caused significant damage to his left leg, ruptured his eardrum, and knocked him unconscious. The blast also took the lives of four others: Command Sergeant Major Kevin Griffin (the brigade’s senior enlisted soldier), Major Thomas Kennedy (the brigade’s fire support officer), Air Force Major Walter Gray (13th Air Support Operations Squadron), and Ragaei Abdelfattah (U.S. Agency for International Development).
His injuries from the blast were so severe that he had to endure more than 30 surgeries over the course of three years to repair the damage to his body. He will likely deal with the lingering effects of his wounds for the rest of his life.
I took an injury that cost about 45 to 50 percent of my calf, it made my leg below my knee numb, I can’t feel my toes, they tied all my ligaments together, fused my foot. I am lucky to be standing and be able to do this today because of the incredible care that I received at Walter Reed.
Captain Groberg is the tenth living member of the military to receive the the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven more military members received the Medal of Honor posthumously for their actions in those Iraq and Afghanistan.