“On his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best.”
Those are the words that Army Captain Florent Groberg heard from President Barack Obama, just before the Medal of Honor was fastened around his neck.
Although Groberg has spent much of the last three years recovering from 33 surgeries, he saved countless lives when, in 2012, he rushed and tackled a suicide bomber while serving in Afghanistan. On that day, Groberg’s training kicked in, and gone were thoughts of personal safety.
As the head of a personal security detachment in the Fourth Infantry Division, Groberg was escorting commanders on foot to a weekly security meeting at the provincial governor’s office in Asadabad, the capital of Kunar Province.
When the group approached a narrow bridge, they saw two motorcycles heading toward them, which tuned out to be a diversion from the real threat.
As Groberg tells it, “A man came out of a building walking backwards, which was eerie, and then started walking towards us. I left my post. As I maneuvered towards him, Sergeant Mahoney to my left maneuvered with me,” referring to Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, who received a Silver Star for his actions that day.
Captain Groberg confronted the man. “I pushed him as hard as I could and honestly I just wanted to get him as far away from my guys as possible. He had a dead man’s trigger, which means he had already pressed the trigger prior to walking towards us. As he hit the ground chest first, he let go the trigger and he detonated.”
The explosion set off another bomb nearby.
Now medically retired, Groberg is the 10th living service member from actions in Iraq or Afghanistan to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor for battlefield bravery. His lost brothers-in-arms were: Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin and Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy of the Army; Maj. Walter D. Gray of the Air Force. Foreign Service officer Ragaei Abdelfattah also lost his life.