Congressional Medal of Honor winner Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living military member to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor since the Vietnam War, told police officers Thursday that their service embodies the same values for which he was recognized.
His remarks came at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Foundation’s annual luncheon. The foundation raises money for police projects not funded by the city’s budget. The foundation contributed $250,000 to help the city buy police body cameras and has paid for a crime lab that uses DNA evidence to solve cold cases.
Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2010 for actions in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. He was a rifle team leader in an infantry regiment when insurgents ambushed his squad in 2007, according to the army. Giunta, then 22, braved enemy fire to pull a squad member back to safety and saved another soldier who was being carried off by enemy insurgents.
“This medal that I wear around my neck isn’t about camouflage or guns – it’s about service,” Giunta said. “As police officers you see that everyday. (Military servicemen) would not go to lands far and wide to try to save the world if the home-front was not safe. This medal is for you – people that give of themselves only because it makes the world a better place.”
Giunta said he was motivated to join the army by the Sept. 11 attacks, which he watched on TV in his high school chemistry class.
“It was a direct attack on America,” he said. “Not just on camouflage-wearing soldiers, but on our citizens, people just living their lives.”
Police unveil new simulator
CMPD police Chief Rodney Monroe also told luncheon attendees that the police foundation had purchased a $47,000 firearms training simulator.
The mobile simulator allows members of the public to experience the kinds of judgment calls officers have to make in stressful situations such as confrontational traffic stops or hostage crises.
“We want to get it right,” Monroe said. “We want to show to our community and others that we are going to get it right.”