As President Obama was signing the citation for his Medal of Honor earlier this week, United States Army Staff Sergeant Leroy Petry noticed he and the Commander and Chief had something in common: they were both left-handed.
“I was asking him on some tips for writing so I don’t smudge,” said Petry, who had to have his right hand amputated. “I’m still having that issue while I’m learning.”
On May 26, 2008 in Paktya, Afghanistan, Petry was shot in both legs during combat. But despite his leg injuries he heroically maneuvered his body toward an enemy hand grenade and threw it away, saving the lives of two members of the 75th Ranger Regiment unit.
Unfortunately, the grenade detonated, and he was wounded by shrapnel, which caused him to lose his right hand.
“I’m surprised no one asked to shake my hand,” joked Petry, who now has a prosthetic right hand.
Petry, who currently works with wounded soldiers, was honored by the Mets on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. He received a raucous ovation from the crowd and was presented a plaque by Jose Reyes before the start of the fourth inning.
“The Mets reached out and asked if I would do it,” Petry said. “And I told them, ‘You bet!’”
Petry said he loves his new job, and is glad to help other soldiers who also were wounded in combat.
“I love it because I went through it with the rehab and everything,” Petry said. “I know how much they did for me and my family during the process, so if I can do it for another solider, it’s my way of helping out. It’s very rewarding for me knowing I was able to help them.”
Petry is proud that the two men he saved during combat are going off to college in the fall.
“It was great to receive the Medal of Honor,” Petry said. “But the greatest part about it is knowing the guys I saved are still here and they’re going to be able to have children and their families didn’t have to suffer any grief. That was good enough for me. Receiving this honor was just over the top. It’s overwhelming, but it’s a lot easier having family and friends with you.”
Petry had a very pleasant conversation with President Obama after receiving the Medal of Honor.
“He just expressed a lot of thanks from the nation,” Petry said.
Petry, a Mets fan, will be attending the game with his three children.
He said it will be his seven-year-old son’s first pro baseball game.
Before each home game, the Mets salute a Veteran of the Game to build awareness of Welcome Back Veterans.