U.S. Medal of Honor awardee Sgt. Leroy Petry joins Tim to tell his Medal of Honor story, from a life and death battle in Afghanistan to the very definition of the word, “honor.” Sgt. Petry is a retired U.S. Army Ranger who is one of the few to receive the military’s highest honor, and one of the very few medal recipients who have survived to tell their own story. This episode was first released October 20, 2020.
In April of 1862, a group of Union Soldiers in the middle of the Civil War had an assignment. They were supposed to make it across Confederate lines to steal a Confederate train car and ride it to Union lines. Along the way, they were supposed to destroy track and depots, cutting off the Confederate supply lines and transportation.
That group of Union solders was called “Andrews Raiders.” Twenty-five men volunteered for the mission that ended in a dramatic train chase and capture by Confederate forces.
Eight of the original 25 volunteers escaped. Three were declared missing. Another eight were hanged. Among those who were executed was leader James Andrews. Another six found their way back to the Union Army as part of a prisoner exchange a year later.
That following March, the survivors met with President Lincoln who thanked them for their service and their efforts in the daring mission, and he told them they’d be the first to receive a new honor. The Medal of Honor. And with that, he had a prototype of the medal and gave it to the youngest member of the group, Private Jacob Parott.
Jacob Parott was the first in the Army to receive what is now regarded as the highest honor any member of America’s military can receive.
The Medal of Honor is the award for valor in combat for all members of the armed forces.
Since 1862, more than 3,400 such honors have been bestowed, many if not most of them, posthumously. Not many who earn such an award, live to talk about it.
Today, the Medal of Honor is awarded sparingly to service members who as the Army says are, “the bravest of the brave; and that courage must be well documented.”
Since the medal is awarded sparingly, and so many of those who receive it die in combat, there are few recipients alive today to tell their story. Retired Sgt. Leroy Petry of the U.S. Army Rangers is one of those few warriors.
The U.S. Army Ranger Creed
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Rangers lead the way!
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