Army Capt. Florent A. Groberg was awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday for his extraordinary heroism while serving in Afghanistan, tackling a suicide bomber to save his comrades and sustaining injuries that required more than 30 surgeries.
In Afghanistan's Konar province on Aug. 8, 2012, Groberg noticed a man backpedaling toward an Army patrol he was helping escort for a meeting with a province governor. CBS reported that he sensed something was amiss, and he shoved the bomber as hard as he could and tackled him to the ground, with help from Sgt. Andrew Mahoney.
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The bomber killed Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray and foreign service officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, a U.S. Agency for International Development foreign service officer, CBS reports, but many more lives were saved because of Groberg's heroics:
He said his actions in that moment were a combination of instincts and training.
"You just react. You don't have time to analyze the situation," Groberg said. "It's a threat—got to get him away from the boss. Everybody would react the same way. Mahoney reacted the exact same way. He went right with me."
It was while the man was on the ground that his vest detonated. The explosion killed Griffin, Kennedy, Gray and Abdelfattah. It also caused a second suicide bomber to detonate his vest prematurely.
Brink said he came within a beat of shooting the suicide bomber but was forced to hold off when Groberg stepped in to tackle the man. Brink believes the casualties would have been far worse if he had shot the bomber, because his vest was facing the security detail.
The Army's official website states Groberg lost 45 to 50 percent of his left calf muscle, a blown eardrum and minor traumatic brain injury, and he spent more than three years recovering at Walter Reed hospital. NBC News reports Groberg lives with chronic pain and is considering having his leg amputated.
President Obama said during the ceremony that Groberg showed his "guts" and his "training."
"That's precisely why we honor heroes like Flo," President Obama said Thursday. "On his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best."