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Obama Awards Medal Of Honor To Army Captain For Afghanistan Service


A soldier who risked his life charging a suicide bomber in Afghanistan received the nation's highest military honor today. President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to retired Army captain Florent Groberg. He's being honored for saving many lives. But Groberg says the honor belongs to four men who died that day. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Thirty-two-year-old Flo Groberg was born in France. He grew up outside Washington, D.C., and became a naturalized citizen during his senior year of high school. Groberg ran track at the University of Maryland where President Obama says he was known as a consummate teammate willing to suffer just a little more than everyone else.


BARACK OBAMA: Day after day, month after month, he pushed himself to his limit. He knew that every long run, every sprint, every interval could help shave a second or two off his times. And as he'd find out later, a few seconds can make all the difference.

HORSLEY: The critical seconds for Groberg came in 2012 when a suicide bomber approached the security patrol he was leading in Afghanistan. Groberg sprinted towards the man and pushed him away just as the suicide vest exploded. Groberg has called that the worst day of his life. His leg was grievously wounded, and four others in the patrol were killed. Still, Obama says were it not for Groberg's quick action, the toll could have been much worse.


OBAMA: On his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best. That's the nature of courage - not being unafraid but confronting fear and danger and performing in a selfless fashion.

HORSLEY: Many of the two-dozen surviving members of the patrol attended today's Medal of Honor ceremony, including Sergeant Andrew Mahoney who also charged the suicide bomber and was decorated with the Silver Star. Groberg says the true heroes are the men who died that day - Kevin Griffin, Thomas Kennedy, Walter Gray and Ragaei Abdelfattah.


FLORENT GROBERG: All we can do now is honor those guys and their families and make sure that we are better people, that we live our lives for them and that every day, you know, when we wake up, we remember.

HORSLEY: Groberg says, while he feels blessed and honored to receive the Medal of Honor, he'd gladly trade the recognition to have his fallen comrades back. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.