Santa Fe – The latest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Army Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, a native of Santa Fe, was welcomed to the Capitol by Governor Susana Martinez, July 29, 2011.
Petry is the second living recipient of the highest military honor awarded since the Vietnam War.
As a Weapons Squad Leader with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Petry was severely wounded on May 26, 2008 protecting his fellow Rangers in combat with the enemy in Paktya Province, Afghanistan. During the firefight, he was shot in both legs, but continued to press the fight. When confronted by a grenade, he picked it up and tried to throw it back toward the enemy. The grenade exploded as he let it go spontaneously amputating his right hand and riddling his body with shrapnel. Though badly wounded, Petry treated himself, applying his own tourniquet, and remained calm while directing the fight until the enemy fighters were eliminated.
Petry was serving his seventh deployment to the southwestern Asia, region with five tours to Afghanistan, and two tours in Iraq. He has since been to Afghanistan for a total of eighth tours.
Hiroshi H. "Hershey" Miyamura, above right, of Gallup, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action during the Korean War greeted Petry at the Roundhouse entrance.
Martinez presented Petry’s children, Austin, Landon, and Reagan with gifts from the New Mexico National Guard.
Landon, 7, gives his GI bear a big hug.
The Governor presented a bouquet of flowers to Petry’s wife Ashley. Petry presented Ashley with his own reward, a public display of affection.
Governor Susana Martinez presented him with the New Mexico flag that flew over the Capitol on July 12, the day he received the medal from President Barak Obama during a White House ceremony.
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry, above right, presented Petry with proclamations from both cities.
Petry spoke to the crowd of about 200 gathered in the Capitol Rotunda.
The New Mexico military affairs set up an impromptu press conference in the rotunda.
Governor Martinez’s staff has yet to grasp the finer points of handling a press conference. The Capitol has so any committee rooms and conference rooms available to them, but instead the PR machine set up a row of chairs in the cavernous rotunda with the crowd still milling around and sounds echoing off the walls.
Standing only feet away from other journalists asking questions, one could not hear over the din in the room.
Fitted with robotic prosthetic hand, he has the names of fellow Rangers from his unit who died in action etched on a plaque attached to the forearm of his artificial limb.
His military bearing is not at all hampered, as evidenced by the mirrored spit-polished shine on his combat boots, which reflect the glass ceiling in the rotunda.
Petry has reenlisted and will now finish his career assisting other wounded and recovering soldiers where he is now stationed, Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacom, Washington.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
The events of the day were well covered, with many people wanting to document Petry's arrival. There were so many people using flashes to capture the event that I chose to edit this post as much as I could using the shared light of other photographers.
The shared light emphasizes the significance of the moment and the light coming from a different angle helps create another dimension to the image.
It was a day full of shared light; on the way back to Albuquerque, I captured the image above, of a storm south of Santa Fe, with a double rainbow and a lightening strike.