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Army Ranger awarded the Medal of Honor

An Army Ranger, who today received the nation's highest military decoration at the White House, said "to be singled out is very humbling." But he added that he considers "every one of our men and women in uniform serving here or abroad to be our heroes."

After the ceremony, Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry asked the nation to "thank them, shake their hand, give them a pat on the back."

President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Petry for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" -- for his heroic actions that saved the lives of two fellow soldiers during a firefight on May 26, 2008 in Eastern Afghanistan.

A weapons squad leader from New Mexico on his seventh tour of duty since 9-11, Petry was part of an air assault team attacking a suspected al Qaeda's commander's hideout when the team came under attack by enemy fighters.

According to the Medal of Honor citation, SFC Petry was wounded in the firefight in both legs by automatic weapons fire, but still managed to lead another Ranger to cover. The situation escalated, as the enemy moved closer throwing grenades towards the team's position. When one grenade landed only a few feet away from Petry and two other U.S. soldiers, Petry "unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, deliberately and selflessly moved forward, picked up the grenade, and in an effort to clear the immediate threat, threw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers."

As he released the grenade it detonated, amputating his right hand at the wrist. Despite his wounds, Petry was able to place a tourniquet on himself and coordinated a medical evacuation for the team.

Obama, who last fall awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, the first living recipient since the Vietnam War, said Petry's actions "speaks to the spirit of America."

Petry, who today helps care for other wounded troops, chose to re-enlist and this past year deployed to Afghanistan for his eighth deployment. The president praised that sacrifice, saying: "This is the stuff of which heroes are made, this is the strength, the devotion that makes our troops the pride of every American."

"Leroy Petry showed that true heroes still exist and they're closer than you think," Obama said.