The world is a little crazy and off-kilter nowadays, but that theft is a whole other level of messed up!
When you consider only military personnel are eligible to receive the award, and millions have served, less than four thousand have received the honor in the last 160 years. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, only 82 recipients were alive as of today, 8 December 2022.
According to an interview between the Military Times and Master Sergeant (MSG Retired) Leroy Petry, his Congressional Medal of Honor plate was stolen from his vehicle at the airport.
He parked his car at the airport in Seattle and flew to Fort Eustis, Virginia, to speak to a group of service members and Veterans about PTSD, mental health, and suicide prevention with the Troops First Foundation.
But when he returned, the Medal of Honor plate depicting his combat valor for saving two fellow Soldiers in Afghanistan was missing. Stolen from his vehicle. The epitome of #StolenValor.
This was MSG Retired Petry’s Facebook status on 8 September:
“So yesterday I noticed that someone stole my Medal of Honor plate from the front of my vehicle while parked at SeaTac airport last week while I was visiting the troops in Ft. Eustis VA. I had the security screws so someone must have really wanted it. Probably some Call of Duty gamer or PX Ranger.” #StolenValor
Some commenters assume whoever stole it needed “front-row parking at Lowe’s or Home Depot.” Whatever their reasoning, it was selfish considering the rich history of the award, what MSG (R) Petry did to get it, and the time and money he will spend replacing it.
I hope whoever did this didn’t do it as a prank or a joke because the Seattle Port Authority reported the incident to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. It’s now on the same level as a stolen vehicle. Good luck with that.
And as MSG Petry said, “…so if somebody took it just as a trophy to hang in their garage, it’s going to be one of those things that they probably won’t able to show anybody because they will admit their own guilt.”
“I had the security screws that take a special key to take them out for that sheer reason that it could be a trophy for some people. ‘Oh, look what I got.’ The thing is, is that you didn’t. You did not get it honorably.”
MSG Leroy Petry’s Story
The date is 26 May 2008, and then Staff Sergeant (SSG) Petry is on a mission against the Taliban with his unit (75th Ranger Regiment) in Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
The seven Rangers came under heavy fire from forty Taliban almost immediately after being dropped at the site by helicopter. According to his Wikipedia narrative, the Taliban threw a grenade in the area of Petry, Sergeant Daniel Higgins, and Private First Class (PFC) Lucas Robinson. SSG Petry attempted to throw it back.
SSG Petry described his immediate reaction as, “…get it out of here, get it away from the guys and myself. And I reached over, leaned over to the right, grabbed it with my hand, and I threw it as hard as I could, what I thought was at the time. And as soon as I opened my hand to let it go, it just exploded instantly. And I came back, and the hand was completely severed off.”
His actions likely saved the others from further injury or death, but his right arm would be amputated at the elbow. On his prosthetic right arm is a plague with the names of his fallen Ranger comrades.
He did not seek medical retirement but re-enlisted in 2010 and received the Medal of Honor from President Obama on 12 July 2012 at a White House ceremony.
He was given a home by George Strait, promoted to MSG, and was officially medically retired on 29 July 2014. In addition to the Medal of Honor, MSG Petry earned the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and eleven other awards.
The “Congressional” Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is only presented to the recipient or next of kin by the President of the United States (POTUS) after Congress’s approval. Although the Congressional Medal of Honor Society oversees recipients’ records, the medal is simply titled the Medal of Honor.
According to facts gathered from History.com, since its creation in 1861, 3,525 Medals of Honor have been awarded to American Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and Airmen (only one has been awarded to a female, Mary Edwards Walker, an Army doctor).
Theodore Roosevelt was the only president ever to receive the award, and he received it posthumously. He and Theodore Jr. were among the only father-and-son duos to be awarded the medal.
The youngest Soldier to receive the award was Willie Johnston at thirteen during the Civil War, and the second youngest was a 17-year-old Marine at Iwo Jima, Jack Lucas.
The 2006 Stolen Valor Act, approved by President George W. Bush, prescribes a one-year prison sentence for conviction of “falsely claiming to have received a Medal of Honor.” The Stolen Valor Act was amended in 2013 to include many other military awards.
You must be some kind of low-life scum to steal someone’s Medal of Honor plate. This Soldier lost his arm, saving his fellow Soldiers, and you think it’s OK to steal the plate off his vehicle?
Before you display that plate, you better think twice, or there might be a one-year prison term waiting for you. You’ve already earned the scorn of every service member that ever donned the uniform.
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About the author.
Stephen Dalton is a native of Old Town, ME, and a retired US Army First Sergeant with a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. He is a Certified US English Chicago Manual of Style Editor. Top Writer in Travel, Food, Fiction, Transportation, VR, NFL, Design, Creativity, Short Story, and a NewsBreak Community Voice Pro.