U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), has announced that U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, Medal of Honor recipient, has been selected as the torchbearer for the 2011 Warrior Games Presented by Deloitte. Giunta will light the torch at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. during the Warrior Games Opening Ceremony on 16 May.
"I'm really excited that I was asked to do this, it's truly an honor for me to kickoff such an amazing competition with so many amazing people" said SSG Giunta. "All of the competitors have faced adversity in some shape or form, and the fact that they have overcome it to not only compete at this event, but live full, quality lives is awesome."
SSG Giunta, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost eight years, became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, the United States' highest military decoration of valor. SSG Giunta was cited for having saved the lives of members of his squad on 25 October 2007 while deployed in Afghanistan. He exposed himself to enemy fire in order to pull a soldier back to cover when their platoon came under attack. For his bravery, he was awarded the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on 16 November 2010.
"It is a privilege to have Staff Sergeant Giunta as the torchbearer for the 2011 Warrior Games," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "He is a true hero who is a role model not only for those taking part in this competition, but for all people in the United States."
Originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, SSG Giunta enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from John F. Kennedy High School. He attended basic training and infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga. and was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade from March 2005-March 2006 and again from May 2007-July 2008.
SSG Giunta is transitioning out of the Army and his future plans include returning to school.
The 2011 Warrior Games Presented by Deloitte will take place in Colorado Springs, 16-21 May. Approximately 220 wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations will compete in seven sports.