Medal recipient: 'I'm still the same guy - just another ranger'

Medal recipient: 'I'm still the same guy - just another ranger'
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. -- Steilacoom's Medal of Honor recipient has returned home to a hero's welcome.

And now, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry is using his new honor - and robotic hand - to help others wounded in war.

"Those in my life before know that I haven't changed, and I don't plan on changing," said Petry. "I'm still the same guy - just another ranger."

But Petry is not just another Army ranger. He is now only the second living recipient of the Medal of Honor for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This wounded ranger, this 28-year-old man with his whole life ahead of him, this husband, and father of four did something extraordinary," said President Barack Obama.

Already wounded by a bullet in his legs, Petry lost his right hand tossing a live grenade away from his fellow rangers.

"When I lost a hand, I thought I was going to get a hook," he said.

Instead of retreating, Petry re-enlisted, joined the special-op care coalition and now uses his wounds to help others heal.

"(I am) kind of a liaison, mentoring, providing leadership, so to speak, and companionship to the wounded, ill and injured," he said.

Petry says he'd like to return to Afghanistan this winter and carry out his rewarding work, but says deployment is toughest on his wife.

"She said, 'Why would you want to go back there? You're already missing an arm, shrapnel shot through both your legs. Why would you want to risk it again?'" said Petry. "We went back and forth, and at the end of the day, I don't risk any more than any other service member over there."

Petry's prosthesis has sensors under the arm that send a signal to the robotic hand.

"It'll rotate left or right, and does a 360, which a lot of kids get smiles out of that,' he said.

For advice on the his new honor, Petry read the medal is easier to earn than it is to wear.

"I hope I wear it well, and do the most positive things I can with it," he said.

Petry and his family are scheduled to meet Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday.