(Updated) Where Christmas Eve Finds a Medal of Honor Recipient
Below: Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg paying tribute to those who were killed in action at the Fenty Memorial while visiting Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s USO Holiday Tour, Dec. 24, 2017. Groberg is a Medal of Honor recipient for actions taken in nearby Asadabad on Aug. 8, 2012, when he was severely injured attempting to stop an attack on his patrol by suicide bombers. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
In this article we learnt that this Christmas Eve will find approximately 275,000 U.S. service members away from home, away from their loved ones, serving their country “on all seven continents, in more than 170 countries and on all the seas.”
Christmas Eve finds one very special former service member celebrating the holidays with his comrades-in-arms at the same place in Afghanistan where he was serving in 2012 as an Army first lieutenant – the same place where five years ago he risked his life to save the lives of his comrades.
You see, as the citation accompanying the Medal of Honor award to Captain Florent A. Groberg states:
Captain Florent A. Groberg distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…during combat operations against an armed enemy in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on August 8, 2012. On that day, Captain Groberg was leading a dismounted movement…As they approached the Provincial Governor’s compound, Captain Groberg observed an individual walking close to the formation. When the individual made an abrupt turn towards the formation, he noticed an abnormal bulge underneath the individual’s clothing. Selflessly placing himself in front of one of the brigade commanders, Captain Groberg rushed forward, using his body to push the suspect away from the formation. Simultaneously, he ordered another member of the security detail to assist with removing the suspect. At this time, Captain Groberg confirmed the bulge was a suicide vest and with complete disregard for his life, Captain Groberg again, with the assistance of the other member of the security detail, physically pushed the suicide bomber away from the formation. Upon falling, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside of the perimeter of the formation, killing four members of the formation and wounding numerous others. The blast from the first suicide bomb caused the suicide vest of a previously unnoticed second suicide bomber to detonate prematurely with minimal impact on the formation. Captain Groberg’s immediate actions to push the first suicide bomber away from the formation significantly minimized the impact of the coordinated suicide bombers’ attack on the formation, saving the lives of his comrades and several senior leaders.
Because of his severe injuries (the loss of 45 to 50 percent of his left calf muscle with significant nerve damage, a blown eardrum, and a mild traumatic brain injury), Groberg spent nearly three years recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Captain, Groberg, born in France and a naturalized U.S. citizen, became the first foreign-born recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War when, on November 12, 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Captain Groberg our nation’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration (below).
This Christmas, Groberg returned to Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, “as a symbol of bravery and resiliency for the soldiers of this base,” as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 2017 USO Holiday Tour.
He also visited other bases and outposts.
Medal of Honor recipient Army Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg speaks to service members at Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, Dec. 22, 2017, as Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, the chairman’s senior enlisted advisor, join him on stage during the 2017 USO Holiday Tour. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
According to Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity:
Groberg’s first stop upon arriving at the base was to visit the memorial at the entrance to the base. The names of the four Americans killed in the attack in Asadabad are engraved there.
“I left [Forward Operating Base] Fenty on a stretcher,” Groberg told the soldiers. “I spent the next couple of months of my life — hell, years — at Walter Reed Hospital to recover. One thing I never lost: From the first day I came into the United States Army and I put on that uniform that you are wearing, I held onto my warrior ethos — that will to fight and destroy the enemy.”
“I am back here to tell the enemy who blew me up and killed my brothers that I’m still standing. They can’t keep me down. I still have my spirit.”
Groberg told the soldiers that they are doing the job that he can’t do anymore. “For that, I honor you,” he said. “There is no better place in the world to be today — on Christmas Eve — than spending the holidays with you.”
Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg speaks to service members during the USO Holiday Tour at Taji Military Complex, Iraq,on Christmas Day. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
Lead photo: Army.mil