WASHINGTON – While escorting commanding officers to a meeting with local Afghans, Capt. Florent A. “Flo” Groberg tackled a man dressed in all black who had bomb hidden beneath his clothes. For his brave, instinctive response in saving many lives, Groberg was given the Medal of Honor Thursday, the country’ highest military honor.
He rushed toward the man, grabbed his vest and pushed him so hard – with the help of his comrade Sgt. Andrew Mahoney – that the man fell to the ground and prematurely detonated the bomb.
President Barack Obama presented the medal to Groberg at the White House. The ceremony honored the retired captain and the Gold Star families of those who died that day. Groberg is the 10th living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.
“The truth is, Flo says that day was the worst day of his life,” Obama said. “And that is the stark reality behind these Medal of Honor ceremonies – that for all the valor we celebrate, and all the courage that inspires us, these actions were demanded amid some of the most dreadful moments of war. That’s precisely why we honor heroes like Flo – because on his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best.”
Seconds after the detonation, Groberg woke up from being knocked unconscious, 15 to 20 feet away from the explosion. His eardrum was blown out, his leg was broken, his calf muscle was blown off and he had severe nerve damage.
Groberg was later taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for recovery. Obama described Groberg’s recount of regaining his consciousness as being a little hazy. Groberg thought he had awakened in a hospital in Germany to the lead singer of the metal band Korn leaning over his bed.
“And so today, Flo, I want to assure you, you are not hallucinating,” Obama said. “You are actually in the White House. Those cameras are on. I am not the lead singer from Korn. We are here to award you our nation’s highest military honor – distinction, the Medal of Honor.”
Born in France, Groberg grew up in Bethesda, Md., graduated from Walter Johnson High School in 2001 and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he competed in track and cross country. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice in 2006, he entered the Army in July 2008.
While many lives were saved on Aug. 8, 2012, four American soldiers – Maj. Kevin Griffin, Maj. Tom Kennedy, Maj. David Gray and Ragaei Abdelfattah, a U.S. Agency for International Development employee – were lost due to the explosion.
Groberg has also been awarded the Bronze Star with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart.
“This medal belongs to the true heroes, Maj. Kevin Griffin, Maj. Tom Kennedy, Maj. David Gray and Ragaei Abdelfattah who made the ultimate sacrifice and didn’t come home,” Groberg said after the ceremony. “It also belongs to their families – the true heroes who live with that day every day, missing one of the members of their families”
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