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Fort Carson Capt. Groberg's life-saving heroism earned him the Medal of Honor

November 8, 2015 Updated: November 8, 2015 at 9:16 am
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Caption +
This image shows where Capt. Florent Groberg's security detail was attacked on August 8, 2012. (Army Photo)

Fort Carson Capt. Florent "Flo" Groberg will be honored with the Medal of Honor on Thursday for heroism in Afghanistan. Here are the basics of what led to the award.

The unit

Capt. Florent "Flo" Groberg led a six-soldier personal security detachment for the leaders of Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team.

The 3,500-soldier light infantry brigade was providing security and support for the local government over a wide swath of southeastern Afghanistan from Jalalabad on the Pakistan border to just east of the capital in Kabul.

 

The mission

On Aug. 8, 2012, Groberg's team was sent to Assadabad, capital of Kunar province, to escort a group of American and Afghan leaders on their way to a security conference at the governor's compound.

The weekly security meeting was led by Afghans and brought American and Afghan officials together on plans to tackle the Taliban insurgency in the area.

Groberg's team and leaders from the brigade flew from Jalalabad to Assadabad, where they landed in an American compound.

Briefings earlier in the day alerted them to security threats in the area, including would-be suicide bombers. They would walk the last half-mile to the governor's compound over a route that had been patrolled and swept for bombs that morning.

The march

Groberg's security team formed a diamond around the 28 American and Afghan leaders they were protecting on the route through Assadabad.

Groberg said that as the soldiers marched, they noticed a tension on the streets.

"It didn't feel right," he said.

Witnesses told Army investigators that two motorcycles raced over a bridge toward the column about halfway through the route.

"As the patrol observed the motorcyclists, Groberg also spotted a lone individual near the left side of the formation, walking backwards in the direction of the patrol," the Army said. "The individual did not cause immediate alarm as there were other local civilians in the area."

The attack

Groberg reacted when he saw the suspicious man turn and rush toward the formation.

A high school and college track standout, Groberg raced toward the man and pushed him away from the troops.

With help from Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, Groberg wrestled the man to the ground. The bomber fell on Groberg's legs before he detonated a vest laden with explosives and ball bearings.

A second bomber detonated his vest on the other side of the formation. It was 9:47 a.m.

 

The aftermath

A rescue team rushed from the American compound and formed a hasty security cordon as medics treated the wounded.

Four men were dead at the scene: Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga.; Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y.; Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo.; and State Department worker Ragaei Abdelfattah, 43, of Annapolis, Md.

Two dozen others survived. Army investigators credited Groberg for saving them by tackling the bomber.

Groberg and five other injured soldiers were loaded into vehicles and taken to the American compound where they were taken by helicopter for treatment.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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