Giunta ceremony

Mollyann Judge, grandmother of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta, on Tuesday shares some memories of Salvatore growing up.

American Legion, Post 190 of Clinton honored Medal of Honor Recipient Salvatore A. Giunta, formerly of Clinton, at the Wild Rose Casino on Tuesday.  

More than 300 people attended an hour-long program and luncheon held in honor of Clinton’s second Medal of Honor winner.  A brick in his honor will be placed in the casino’s garden of bricks for veterans, which they sponsor along with the local post.

Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, son of Steven and Rose Judge Giunta of Hiawatha and formerly of Clinton, received the Medal of Honor — the United States’ highest military honor — for bravery under fire while confronting a highly armed enemy on October 25, 2007 in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.  Sgt. Giunta took leadership of his platoon after his squad leader was mortally wounded and saved another soldier from the enemy in a battle against large odds. He fought, led, provided medical treatment and carried men to safety.

Giunta was born in Clinton and moved to Cedar Rapids and graduated from Kennedy High School before enlisting in the United States Army.  He has served seven years in the service and coincidentally concluded his service on the very day of this program. After retirement, he will live in Fort Collins, Colo., with his wife, Jen and will attend Colorado State University.  Jen was born in Dubuque, and they met overseas.

Sal is the grandson of Robert and Molly Judge of Clinton, who were also honored at the program. That facility’s general manager, Tim Bollmann, served as master of ceremonies and will succeed current American Legion post commander, Ron Garrison, in July.

In attendance at this event were many local officials, veterans and citizens.  People came from far away, such as former Clinton residents and CHS graduates Ted and Alex Grayes from Memphis, Tenn. They still hold their Clinton roots in great respect as well as their honor of serving in the U.S. military. The program was arranged by casino marketing director, Maureen Roushar, and included the AMVETS color guard, invocation and benediction by Don Krambeck, a film about Giunta, the presence of Boy Scout Troop 642, and the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America, led by Ben and Tom Ehrhart.

Clinton’s other Medal of Honor recipient was William B. Hayes who earned his award serving with Company K, 11th Iowa Infantry at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 15, 1864. He was also honored at the casino festivities in this year of the Sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Civil War and a brick in his honor will also be placed in the garden. He was from DeWitt and worked as an attorney in Los Angeles during the last years of his life.

The American Legion program was held in the ba­llroom of the Wild Rose Casino and the main speaker, Dave Rehbein, past national commander of the American Legion, spoke of his work with the task force for Recovering Wounded, Ill, and Injured Warriors. He emphasized the great honor brought to Iowa by those who have served in the military and especially by the selection of Giunta from Iowa as the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.