EXCLUSIVE: 1st Living Medal of Honor Winner Since Vietnam Tells His Story

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Says Brennan, "I think that's what Sal knows in his heart is that he did this for Josh, but if the shoe were on the other foot…Josh would have done it for him."

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Giunta's fellow soldiers of the 173rd Airborne are currently on another deployment to Afghanistan. A veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, Giunta is serving as part of the rear detachment that remained at the unit's home base at Camp Ederle, in northern Italy.

It was there that he received a personal phone call from President Obama last Thursday night to inform him that he would be receiving the Medal of Honor.

Even though he knew the call was coming, he said his heart was racing and that he was overwhelmed by the personal nature of the president's call.

"When you hear him, he's not addressing the nation, he's not addressing the world," he said. "He was talking to me. "

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"he second I said 'Mr. President' everything just kind of stopped. … I don't know what happened after that. It was intense."

No date has been set for when President Obama will present the honor to Giunta. The Pentagon has received criticism from members of Congress that it has been reluctant to award the nation's highest award for valor for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as it did in previous conflicts. In World War II, 464 Medals of Honor were awarded, 133 during the Korean War and 246 for the war in Vietnam. Pentagon officials say the standards have not changed.

The six times that the Medal of Honor has been awarded for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan it has been done posthumously. The day before Giunta's announcement, the White House announced that there would be another posthumous recipient, Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller who died Jan. 25, 2008, giving up his life to save the lives of his fellow squadmates.

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Earlier this year, NATO military commanders decided to abandon the remote outposts in the Korengal Valley as part of the new strategy to focus attention on protecting larger population centers in Afghanistan.
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