|Staff Sgt. Leroy A. Petry|
On May 26, 2008, Staff Sgt. Leroy A. Petry and the 2nd Platoon, D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment conducted a high-risk daylight helicopter assault by landing on two helicopter landing zones north and south of the primary target building respectively. The mission was to capture a high-value target believed to be located in the primary target building.
At 1:34 p.m., on May 26, 2008, the assault force began to clear the objective area. Petry’s task was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured and serve as the senior non-commissioned officer at that site for the remainder of the operation.
Recognizing one of the assault squads needed assistance clearing their assigned building, Petry relayed to the platoon leader that he was moving to the squad to provide additional supervision and guidance during the clearance of the building.
|Credit: U.S. Army|
Staff Sgt. Petry, Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson, Sgt. Daniel Higgins, Staff Sgt. James Roberts, and Spc. Christopher Gathercole, entered through the northeast corner of the outer courtyard and immediately moved to the inner courtyard to clear the buildings. Once the inner courtyard structures were cleared, Petry and Robinson moved to clear the outer courtyard, knowing it had not been cleared during the initial entry.
Both Rangers moved into an area of the compound that contained a then-unknown number of enemy ﬁghters who were prepared to engage friendly forces from opposite ends of the outer courtyard….
|Credit: U.S. Army|
Upon hearing the report of two wounded Rangers, Higgins, still providing security in the inner courtyard, immediately moved to the outer courtyard. As Higgins was moving to Petry and Robinson’s position, Petry threw a thermobaric grenade in the vicinity of the enemy position. Shortly after the grenade exploded, which created a lull in the enemy fire, Higgins arrived at their position and began assessing their wounds.
While Higgins was evaluating the severity of their wounds, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop at the three Rangers.
The grenade landed approximately ten meters from the Rangers, and knocked them to the ground when it exploded. It wounded Higgins and Robinson.
Shortly after the grenade exploded, Roberts and Gathercole entered the outer courtyard, moving toward the action.
Petry, Higgins, and Robinson were still grouped together on the side of the chicken coop when another grenade landed a few feet from Higgins and Robinson.
Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry, despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety, consciously and deliberately risked his life by picking up the live enemy grenade and trying to throw it away his fellow Rangers.
He decided to risk his life to remove the immediate threat to his fellow Rangers’ lives. As Petry was throwing the grenade away from his team, which prevented serious injury or death to Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated his right hand.
|Credit: U.S. Army|
With a clear mind, Petry assessed his wound and quickly placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete he reported that they were still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again.
Immediately after the blast amputated Petry’s hand, Roberts began to engage the enemy behind the chicken coop with small arms ﬁre and a grenade, which effectively suppressed the enemy.
Shortly after that engagement, another enemy on the east end of the courtyard engaged Roberts and wounded Gathercole. Higgins and Robinson returned ﬁre and killed the enemy…
Higgins wrote in a later statement, “if not for Staff Sergeant Petry’s actions we [Higgins and Robinson] would have been seriously wounded or killed.”
|2nd Platoon, D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment|
Photo credits: U.S. Army (2011)