Unit history is chronicled throughout the military, sometimes in the form of bestselling books or blockbuster movies. You can mention “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young,” and I am sure people automatically think of the 1st Cavalry Division. Maybe you hear the words “Blackhawk Down” and instantly you think of Army Rangers. Although other units may keep record of their past, there is no unit in the U.S. military besides the Ranger Regiment that can trace its lineage all the way back to before the Revolutionary War.

Major Robert Rogers formed Ranger units to conduct combat operations in the French and Indian Wars in the 1700s. Major Roberts had 28 standing orders that are not only still in use today, but if you walked into any COF (company operating facility) within any of the Ranger Regiment units, you would likely see these orders posted on a wall somewhere.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were Ranger units formed for the war of 1812 and to protect the frontier land. These units boasted famous Americans Daniel Boone and Abe Lincoln as members. The war between the states prompted the Confederacy to form a Ranger unit, which operated in the Virginia area and was known as Mosby’s Rangers.

World War II brought about possibly the most famous time for Ranger units, with the formation of six Ranger battalions. These units started as the 1st Ranger Battalion and were formed by the legendary Gen. William O. Darby. They operated in North Africa and Europe. General Darby later trained the 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions and the coveted Ranger Scroll was born. The 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions were formed in preparation for D-Day and the beach assault on Normandy. These battalions spearheaded the historic assault and climbing of Pointe Du Hoc, and were later decimated in the Battle for the Hurtgen Forest—one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. The famous “Rangers Lead the Way” slogan was born on the beaches of Normandy when General Norm Cota gave Major Max Schneider, commander of the 5th Ranger Battalion, the order to lead the allied troops off the beach: “Ranger, lead the way.” The famous “Ranger diamond” was worn by the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions.

In the Pacific theater, the 6th Ranger Battalion conducted a daring POW raid at Cabanatuan, rescuing over 500 POWs and destroying the camp. This story is memorialized in the book “Ghost Soldiers” and the movie “The Great Raid.” Merrill’s Marauders, also known as Task Force Galahad, was formed and led by the legendary commander Major General Frank Merrill. This unit operated in the China-Burma theatre, conducting raids and essentially living off the land.

The wars in Korea and Vietnam brought about the formation of smaller Ranger units used for conducting reconnaissance and small raids—often referred to as LRPS or Long Range Recon Patrols. In this time period, numerous Rangers were recipients of the Medal of Honor.

In 1974, the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions were formed based upon a charter from General Creighton Abrams. Starting in 1984 the Ranger Regiment was born with the addition of the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the regimental headquarters. Since 1984, the Ranger Regiment has had units participate in every conflict the United States has sent troops to, as well as some situations you have never heard of and probably won’t for a long time.

One example of the kind of dedication and attention to detail the Ranger Regiment demands from newly assigned Rangers is the “Airborne Ranger in the Sky” tradition. Essentially, when a new Ranger is assigned to his company, he is given the name of a Ranger who has fallen in battle. The newly assigned Ranger must memorize everything about this fallen Ranger; when I say everything, I mean everything. As an example you would need to know where the Ranger was KIA, what province was the battle in, what was the name of the mission, how many children did he have, where did he go to high school, what was his wife’s name, what sports did he play in high school. The list is endless and even if you think you know everything, someone will find something you didn’t know, because odds are there is someone in your company that was friends with your “Airborne Ranger in the Sky,” and they will always know more than you. This tradition is about knowing who set the standard before you and pushing you to uphold the standard regardless of the situation.

In the time since the formation of the Ranger Regiment, only one Ranger has been the recipient our nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. That Ranger is MSG (R) Leroy Petry from the 2nd Ranger Battalion. If you were to ask Leroy, he would tell you that he is the same Ranger he was before the Medal of Honor. After speaking with him for an hour and half, I can tell you that is completely accurate—he’s a completely humble hero.

SOFREP: Leroy, thanks so much for the opportunity to interview you. I know that you have a crazy schedule and your time is limited, so I’ll get down to it. What made you decide to enlist in the Army and choose to serve in the Ranger Regiment?

When I was a kid in history class, part of what we had to do was learn about current events. One of the things going on at that time was Desert Storm, so I kind of took an interest in the military when I learned about what was going on over there. I had a relative who was deployed over there, so I started asking questions about the war and why my cousin had to be over there, things like that. I also had a number of other relatives that served in the military, and when they talked about it they were all very proud of their service. In fact, with my relatives that served, the first room of their house had pictures and stuff from their military service.

Probably one of the biggest influences for me was I had a cousin who had enlisted about a year before I did, and he was in 2nd Ranger Battalion. So when he came home on leave, he was telling me all about what the Ranger Regiment did. I think that really sparked an interest and fire in me to do something like he was doing; I figured if I was going to join the Army, I wanted to go to a unit that trained the hardest so if there ever was a war, I would be ready.

SOFREP: Did you ever get to deploy with your cousin?

No, actually he left Regiment before the wars started, and eventually put in a flight packet. He still flies helicopters today.

SOFREP: Can you tell us a little bit about what it means to you to be a Ranger?

Ranger Leroy Petry Awarded the Medal of Honor July 12, 2011

Read Next: Ranger Leroy Petry Awarded the Medal of Honor July 12, 2011

It really has been a great path and I think about how fortunate I have been. Being a Ranger, you train, go to war, and interact with some of the toughest guys who will not quit under any circumstances. You also meet some of the greatest leaders and learn things about yourself that stay with you for a lifetime. It was interesting: When I was in basic training, SSG Stebbins, the guy they showed making coffee as Grimes in the movie “Blackhawk Down,” was my platoon sergeant. In training, he was just amazing. He had all of us learning the Ranger Creed when the other platoons were learning things like the Soldier’s Creed and Infantryman’s Creed. He used to say, “Men, don’t worry about learning all these other creeds; if you learn the Ranger Creed, it will guide you on the right path.” When you look at all the other creeds the Army has, he had a point. So much of the Ranger Creed is paraphrased throughout the other creeds.

There is only one tattoo I have ever gotten in my life, and that is a tab and scroll. The funny thing is, I got the tab put on before I went to Ranger School. I know that there were a bunch of legal things that eventually came out about SSG Stebbins that I really don’t know anything about, but as our platoon sergeant, he was a really solid leader and helped many of us become very solid soldiers.

SOFREP: I am sure you received a fair amount of smoking for getting the tab before graduating.

I did, and guys would ask me, “What if you don’t make it through Ranger School?” But for me, that was not an option. I knew I was not coming back from Ranger School without my tab.

SOFREP: We had a similar situation like that in my RIP class. A bunch of guys went out and bought Ranger panties with the tab on them, not thinking anything of it since everyone was so focused on the scroll. Well, the RIP cadre saw some guys wearing them and that initiated an epic smoke session for us all. Truth be told, I actually had a pair as well, but had not taken them out of my car yet, which didn’t matter since we all got the benefit of the smoke session. It was really the first lesson I learned about not wearing anything you haven’t earned.

I think 2nd Battalion is the reason we lost the Ranger panties. Right before a deployment, we were told we had to be completely sterile, so all we had for PT and stuff were the scrolled shorts. We really had no time to get anything else prior to leaving on the deployment. So the S-4, who I think is a colonel now, said, “Don’t worry, I can order some sterile shorts and we will be fine.” Well he did find some, made the order, and they arrived overseas for us. Unfortunately, I think he ordered the cheapest ones he could find that would be the quickest to reach us overseas. It turned out that he ordered the style with no liners. As you can imagine, a bunch of Rangers wearing these shorts with no liners in the chow hall and other places led to a lot more being seen than was intended. So I think that was the end of the Ranger panties.

SOFREP: When you received orders for 2nd Battalion, did a little part of you really wish you were going to 1st Battalion?

It is funny you mention that, as I did have orders for 3rd Battalion initially. I went to the RIP TAC and asked if there was some way I could go to 2nd Battalion; he suggested I go talk to the RIP 1SG. So I reported to the 1SG, and he asked me what was wrong with 3rd Battalion. I told him my cousin was in 2nd Battalion, my family was out West, and that I really just hated Columbus. I figured I was done when he said, “Oh really? What is wrong with Columbus? I am from Columbus.” So he razed me a bit and then said, “Go find somebody that wants to switch and I will approve it.” I still have the original and amended orders.

I actually visited 1st Battalion a few years ago for St. Patrick’s Day; it is pretty crazy down there. In 2nd Battalion, I think we were able to shoot more ammo than the other battalions, and in one year, I think we shot more than the 1st and 3rd Battalion combined. I think that is mainly due to location; we just have a ton of good ranges at JBLM. I think everyone has a battalion in mind they would like to go to, and it is probably not based on anything other than where you came from or where some of your buddies might be going or already are. There is one thing, though, that we always give the other battalions a hard time about: They stole our diamond. I can remember seeing all the 1 and 3 diamonds on people’s trucks or whatever, and I was like, “Hey, they stole our diamond!” So whenever we get around the other battalions, we like to give them a hard time about that.

SOFREP: Now you have me a little nervous that some 2nd Battalion guy might take my 1st Battalion diamond off my truck. I think you’re right though; every battalion has had so many great leaders and so many Ranger legends. I know you had CSM Guerrero out at 2nd Battalion.

Yeah, good ol’ LG. I see him now and then. One time in the chow hall, I saw him and he started doing push-ups in front of me. I was like, “Man, stop that. You’re making me feel really awkward.” The honor and privilege of receiving the Medal of Honor can really be awkward at times because you are just trying to fit in and not be noticed more than you already are, especially when you are just hanging out with your buddies.

One of the things I talked about with Salvatore Giunta is, with the Medal of Honor, you lose some of your ability to just be one of the guys. Just hanging out with your buddies becomes harder since you are always talking to CSMs and generals. The positive of that is, though, when you get to talk to the NCOs and enlisted on the line, you can hear firsthand some of the issues we face, and you then have a path or platform to the senior CSMs and generals to hopefully make positive changes.

When I was nominated, I really didn’t expect to receive the award; I was in the Ranger Regiment and everything we do we are expected to do. In my mind, I did what any other Ranger would have done. When it became pretty likely I would receive the Medal of Honor, one of the things I promised myself was that I would do my best to make positive change for the Regiment and other soldiers as well.

SOFREP: I would imagine that the Medal of Honor brings with it a certain level of responsibility, and that it can be difficult to learn to manage your time. Do you ever talk with some of the other Rangers in the regiment that have experienced similar things? Guys Like 1st SGT. Kapacziwskifor instance?

I do talk to Kap every now and then. He can be a good sounding board. It can be hard to have this level of fame, for lack of a better word, and still just want to be one of the guys. But when you think about all the good you can do or the positive impact you can have, it really is a small burden to carry.

SOFREP: One of my nephews had Kap as a RASP instructor, and he called me one day and said, “Uncle Ken, there is this guy here, and he only has one leg. He is just killing us on the runs.” I really think that kind of example of determination really goes to show you the type of man that serves in the Ranger Regiment.

I am sure it is hard to lose a race to a one-legged man; it kind of humbles you.

SOFREP: So you were in 2nd Ranger Battalion when 9/11 happened. What was the emotional response to that tragedy throughout the Regiment?

I was. Actually, I was out at Cole Range in Pre-Ranger. We were given a little bit of information about what was going on, but the overall sentiment from the Pre-Ranger instructors was, “OK, now get your butts back out there and keep training; we are going to war soon.” When we all got to Ranger School, we heard a little more information about what was going on, and some guys actually quit—figuring they would get into the war faster. Unfortunately, those guys earned a one-way ticket out of Regiment by doing that.

SOFREP: Wow, so even though there was what would turn out to be a prolonged war footing in the military, the Regiment held to the standard about quitting Ranger School?

They did. One thing about Regiment you can always count on is that the standard is the standard, and you will be held accountable regardless of what might be going on. I think it is just one of the things that separates the Ranger Regiment from every other unit in the military.

SOFREP: So many people that serve in the Ranger Regiment go on to such great and successful careers, whether that is in the military or after they leave. What do you think are some of the character traits that you learn while serving in the Ranger Regiment that guides or pushes people into success?

The “don’t ever quit” attitude is really important, and the selection process just to get into Regiment or stay in Regiment is very demanding. Another thing that people often don’t realize or know is that you have to have a pretty high GT score or IQ just to qualify to attempt to serve in the Regiment. Sure, there are a lot of really tough, physical guys in Regiment, but you have to be pretty intelligent as well.

Ranger School is really just a test or a waypoint in order to stay in Regiment. Many of the men that serve in Regiment are individual thinker. In many units, you might have to tell someone to go do something, but in the Regiment, you often have to tell someone to not do something because they are so proactive and aggressive as individuals. I think the leadership Regiment has also is a real benefit, and Regiment strives to develop leadership in a Ranger very early in their career. It is not uncommon for a specialist or young sergeant to be doing things in Regiment that senior NCOs are just learning in the regular Army.

SOFREP: How much of an impact did the type of training and the intensity have on the success of what the Regiment accomplishes? I know you had talked a little bit about visualization and thinking about what you would do in certain situations so you’d be prepared for anything that might happen.

It really is a major factor. Thinking about what could happen and finding your true limits, pushing yourself past what you thought your limits were or what you thought you could handle is something I think many Rangers do. We face a constant high op-tempo, constantly work to build muscle memory, and battle the fear of realizing, as a leader, you are responsible for your men and to their families. We are always striving to do the best we can to lead them.

SOFREP: What are some of the things that you have seen or learned as you have gone around speaking to Rangers or other groups?

Well one thing is the level of care that the medics can provide at the squad or platoon level. The amount of training and effort the Regiment has put into making sure we have medics that are just so highly trained…it’s amazing what they are capable of. I obviously have firsthand knowledge of that expertise. When we get a medic at the platoon or section level, they have gone through almost two years of schooling. One of the things I always tried to do was, whenever we went to the shoot house or the range, grab a medic and bring them with us, put them in the stack, and train with them.

One of the main focuses or efforts for me right now is helping with veteran outreach and job placement, and I would really like to see the Regiment and even the Army really help push the medics to get or maintain the national registry, since that is something that would really help in the civilian side if a soldier were to get out of the military.

SOFREP: Talk to me a little about the Medal of Honor process—how the Regiment handled the process. I would imagine it was probably a little overwhelming at times.

I was still in the hospital, and my company commander and first sergeant flew in to spend a couple of days with me, which was a little surprising since I knew the company was still going through redeployment stuff. I think I surprised them at how well I was doing; I was walking around and getting along pretty well by then. So they came back to the hotel with me and we smoked a few cigars. They sat my wife and me down and told us that they were recommending me for the Medal of Honor.

SOFREP: I would imagine that was an interesting conversation to say the least.

It was. I had already kind of started formulating my plan and was looking at working for the Care Coalition in the northwest. It was kind of one of those things that you hear, but just keep on trying to do your job. It was kind of funny because I would be walking across the quad or going over to another company and someone would say, “Hey, did you hear that it passed this level or that it passed JSOC?” Other people would hear about what was going on before I did.

As the process moved along and got closer, the regimental commander came and talked to me. Then the battalion CSM was getting ready to PCS, and he brought my wife and me in and told us where everything was in the process. He also kind of told my wife and me that if everything did get approved, it would be a blessing and a curse at the same time, which was probably the best advice that someone who did not have a Medal of Honor gave me.

SOFREP: What are some of the things that happen after everything is passed and the ceremony is over? Do you have a staff or a PAO, people to assist you?

There is a toll on your time, but some of that is probably self-induced. It is hard because you still want your time to be spent as a dad and a husband, and you still have the things that are important to you, like just hanging out with your buddies. It can be a burden at times, but it is also a great opportunity and none of it is forced.

In the beginning, there were a bunch of people assisting me. I think I had a LTC, major, and several NCOs pretty much going everywhere with me. It was more than I needed, I think. Eventually I mentioned that I was capable of handling things and having all these people dedicated to me wasn’t really necessary. I think they then transferred a lot of the requests and things that came in for me over to the USASOC PA NCOIC, SFC Noggle. One day, I received a call from him in which he told me that I had over 100 messages or requests, and that was when I realized there were a lot to the responsibilities. I felt kind of bad because I probably blew his day up with just things that were related to me, and I had him start sending me things directly.

We sat down and set up some guidelines on things I would do and things I wouldn’t do. We ended up working great together. He is really a great guy and ended up helping me and my family tremendously. It finally came time for him to PCS; he told me he wanted to go to the Ranger Regiment and he did. SFC Noggle became the first Ranger Regiment PA NCOIC, and eventually graduated Ranger School. He is a really great guy and we are still good friends today.

SOFREP: How was finally retiring? Was it hard to essentially close a chapter in your life?

It wasn’t too bad. You know, I joke around with the guys at the Care Coalition up here that it took three of you guys to replace me. I always hoped I would be out of a job at the Care Coalition because that would mean we had no more causalities, training accidents, or guys getting hurt off-duty. I felt like I might have been leaving a job, but I wasn’t leaving the service. I still talk with the guys at the Care Coalition and I am able to get involved in other groups that help veterans now. When I was on active duty, I couldn’t solicit, so now there are many things I can do to help that I wasn’t able to do when I was on active duty.

SOFREP: What are some of the things you are focused on now?

Helping soldiers transition, helping soldiers get jobs, and the big thing that is important to me is helping with the veteran suicide problem. I went to a suicide-prevention seminar in Dallas, and one thing I noticed was there were a lot of resources made available once people called in, but there was no real outreach to those that for whatever reason didn’t call in. We started a thing called Operation Warrior Call with David Feherty, and really the main goal is to get a commitment from guys to call a buddy and check in with them once a week. The same principle goes for someone who needs help; if you need help, just call in. Social media has an ability to connect people who can help one another, and if it is used the right way, it can have a very positive impact on the lives of people who are willing to get help.

SOFREP: Are there any organizations that are helping veterans that you have taken a more personal interest in?

Well we talked a little about David Feherty and his group Troops First Foundation, which is helping troops with reintegration, helping the wounded, and mentoring. He really has a passion for helping veterans, and if you have ever seen his golf show, he is the same person face-to-face that he is on that show. It is interesting to note that he actually was granted his U.S. citizenship in part due to his work with veterans; he has a quote along the lines of, “For me, working with veterans is my therapy.” The director lives in Maryland, and there is not a day that goes by he doesn’t have a wounded veteran from a local hospital or the local area over to his house. They are not one of the more widely known organizations, but they are a group that I see having a lot of positive impact on veterans.

Another organization I am actually on the board of is Bouldercrest Retreat. They specialize in helping veterans deal with PTSD, not just dealing with it, but trying to understand their triggers and learning how to manage their lives. Dana Bowman was the guy that got me involved in this and he actually got me jumping again.

A group I have started working with and one I am really excited about is the Patriot Project. They offer free chiropractic care to veterans. They are really just getting started, but the main goal is to give as many veterans as they can free chiropractic care at least once a week. It is interesting how the whole thing evolved because there are several Medal of Honor recipients on their board. I was at an event and I was checking in at the same time as Dr. Novelli, the founder. They told him they had no more rooms. I told him, “I have two beds; you can rack out in one of them.” So this guy is running around adjusting veterans, their family members, just about anybody that will let him.

The last night we were there, he says, “Here, let me adjust you.” We were in our room, and I was like, “No dude, you are not touching me.” So he does his adjustment, and it was like night and day for me. I was actually at an event and he was talking to a two-star Air Force general, and I finally had to interrupt them and get my adjustment. He is also trying to get the military to embrace more chiropractic care. When you think about it, there are so many things that the military could offer, from trainers to physical therapists for the special operations units that would make such a difference in getting us back in the fight faster. The problem with getting SOF guys healed is not the motivation but the methods we are using; nobody in SOF wants to hang out on profile, we all want to get better, and having people that understand that would just help the force get healed faster.

I guess the other organization that I am fairly involved with is the Halo for Freedom Foundation. This is another group started by Dana Bowman. Currently, I am on their board and we really try to focus on veterans that have been through an amputation, with the main goal being to ensure they know that, regardless of whatever circumstances you are in, there are still countless things you can do and be a part of.

SOFREP: Do you have any thoughts on how we could improve or better groom NCOs in SOF or even on the conventional side?

One of the first things I became involved in shortly after receiving the Medal of Honor was retention and trying to keep our mid-rank NCOs. There were some issues with guys making SSG or being close to being promoted to SSG, and they were deciding to go ahead and leave the military rather than stay in and continue with their career. We are talking about guys with five or six years of irreplaceable experience. The studies they did found that with the op-tempo and even with some of the education benefits like the GI Bill, these guys looked at their options, their family life, as well as other things, and realized that they could get out of the military, go to college, and make almost as much as what they were making while serving in the Army.

These are smart guys; there was a reason they were making promotions quickly. In many cases, the beating their bodies were taking and the toll on their family life was just a little too much. One of the things I wanted to see was the ability for a SSG to take a year off and get a chance to go get some college education. The Army is doing this for young officers and it was obviously working since the Army has been doing this for years for the officers. It wasn’t just the deployments, but the train-ups prior to deploying. It is pretty common for a Ranger Battalion pre-deployment train-up to be as vigorous and hectic as an actual deployment. I just think that if we want to continue to have the best NCOs in the world, giving young NCOs a chance to take a year or so and improve their education is a winner for the whole Army.

SOFREP: There have been a number of Rangers to receive the Medal of Honor throughout history—several from the Vietnam- and Korea-era LRPS, correct? MSG Shugart had served in 2nd Ranger Battalion, but you are the only member of the modern day Ranger Regiment to ever receive the Medal of Honor. Do you ever reflect on that?

You know the Ranger Regiment PAO at that time, who I think was a major, used to introduce me that way, and I really didn’t think of it in that context. The reason is I really don’t think of myself that way. Probably one of the best things about the ceremony and receiving the Medal of Honor was the recognition it brought to the Regiment. It is interesting that even today there is so much confusion about Ranger units; even today you can tell someone you are a Ranger and they might ask, “Oh, what park do you work at?” I just don’t think about being the first or even being a hero because so many Rangers have done heroic things before me and will do heroic things after me.

I really think one of the hardest things was I was being asked to do so many things or getting  so many requests that Regiment kind of tried to protect me by asking guys not to bother me and stuff. I know they had my best interest in mind, but at the end of the day I am still the same guy who came to Regiment and just wanted to hang with my guys. It is funny, I ran into a buddy one time and he said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were in town! I had wanted to invite you to a Toby Keith concert.” I asked him what day that was that he’d gone, told him I had been home and was literally just hanging out at the house all day. My buddy said, “The Regiment didn’t want us bothering you.”

Like I said, I know everyone was just trying to help or do what they thought was best, but I am really no different than the guy I was before all this happened. We did end up going to a later Toby Keith concert though, so it worked out. My retirement was really the first time I was able to talk to a bunch of Rangers; I was always wondering, you know, when they were going to ask me to talk to a RASP or Ranger School graduation. I just think the Army was worried about asking me to do too much. The thing is, my attitude is such that you can always ask and I can say no, but if you don’t ask, neither of us will ever know. Doing more events with the younger soldiers was something I wish I had more of a chance to do.

SOFREP: It is funny that you mention that, because I am always wondering what I can write about next, and you don’t want to bother people or put more on them than they probably already have going on. I looked one day and saw that we were friends on Facebook, probably through Brotherhood of the Scroll or something, and figured I should ask for an interview. He can always say no, I thought. Sure enough, it worked out.

I try to do everything I can. I look at my schedule as a pie and try and make sure the slices are even; it seems the only slice that is the smallest is the slice for Leroy—never enough Leroy time. Right now I am just trying to do as much for my family as I can. They are getting older and some of them have already left the house, with others getting closer to moving out of the house. I figure when I get older there will be plenty of time for Leroy time.

SOFREP: I noticed that you were out with Mat Best and the Range 15 guys working on their big movie. How did that go?

Man, that was fun. It went really well. We had a ton of laughs and I was able to meet some really interesting people. Danny Trejo was really cool and he still does his own stunts; he will get in there and mix it up just like one of the guys. There will probably be some people that are a little shocked by the movie, but everything is really just in good fun. I did an interview with Maxim when I was out there, and they kind of asked about why I was doing this, but really it is just a fun movie done by some veterans trying to make a movie and get into Hollywood. Another guy that was great was Val Kilmer, who I had talked to off and on, so we just stopped by his house and he was willing to help out when he heard about the movie being done by veterans.

SOFREP: Well I know you have to go cook dinner. What are you having by the way?

Salmon. That is one of the great things about living in the Northwest. I have to tell you this about cooking, though: One of the really cool things is for my prosthetic, they were able to make knives and other things so I can cook like a chef. I actually spoke to a culinary arts school—Sullivan University in Kentucky—and one day a chef’s coat showed up at the house. It was embroidered with my name and was really a neat thing, so now when I am grilling, I wear that and my Ranger panties. I am sure it looks a little different; even my wife looked at me and was like, “What are you doing?” I just told her, “Wait ’till you taste the food.”

SOFREP: Leroy, I can’t thank you enough for taking so much time out of your demanding schedule. Is there anything you would like to say or close out the interview with?

As far as the medal, I say this a lot: Another Medal of Honor recipient said, “It is a heavy medal around one’s neck.” I think it gets lighter the more I get to share it with others. I get to hold on to the medal, but it doesn’t belong to me. I only get to hang on to it. It represents all the men and women that have served and are serving, and their families that serve right alongside us as well, because they are making the same sacrifices, too. You might not see it on the news every day anymore, but there are people still serving and being deployed right now—serving our country, doing hard and difficult work to keep our nation safe.