- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Army staff sergeant who stepped into the line of fire to help a pair of comrades on the Afghan battlefield received the Medal of Honor on Tuesday — the nation’s top military award.

President Obama awarded the medal to Sgt. Salvatore Giunta at a White House ceremony, making the 25-year-old Iowan the first living service member from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to be so honored. Seven others have received the award posthumously.

Mr. Obama called Sgt. Giunta a solider who is “as humble as he is heroic” and said the ceremony was a “joyous occasion.”

The Army says Sgt. Giunta was a rifle team leader in eastern Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley when his squad was split in two after an ambush by insurgents. While under fire, Sgt. Giunta pulled a fellow soldier to cover and rescued another who was being dragged away by the enemy.

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