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Retired Army Captain Adjusting to Life as Medal of Honor Recipient

Capt. Florent Groberg with Southern California high school students.
John Ismay/KPCC
Capt. Florent Groberg with Southern California high school students.

Florent Groberg is in one of the smallest clubs in the military: he's a recipient of the Medal of Honor, a distinction earned by only ten living veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

By all appearances at an event in his honor Friday in Los Angeles, Groberg is adjusting well to his new lifestyle of constant speaking engagements, luncheons, and ceremonies. 

Other recent recipients told Groberg, "'your life is going to be completely different,'" he said."People, the way they look at you and see you, and [they] want to be near you."

Medal of Honor recipients are invited to every presidential inaugural ball and they never pay federal income tax again.

Groberg, however, says the most memorable recent moment came two days before the ceremony where he received the Medal. He was reunited with his entire security team for the first time since leaving Afghanistan.

"It just reminder us of our brotherhood and how close we all were, are, and will always be," Groberg said. "That was one of the most incredible emotional days of my life. You look at what happened and we were finally able to talk about it."

"It" being the day in 2012 when the now-retired Army captain was leading a security team in Afghanistan, protecting several high-ranking officers, when he spotted a suicide bomber coming his way. Groberg immediate ran towards the bomber, and with another soldier, they pushed him away and down to the ground.

The man exploded at his feet.

Somehow Groberg survived, while four other Americans were killed in that explosion.

His actions earned him the nation's highest military honor--one that is almost always shadowed with tragedy.

"No one joins the military to get medals," he said. "You join the military to serve your country. To be honest I’d do everything to give back this Medal to bring my guys back."

Since being medically retired from the Army, Groberg is studying for a master’s degree at the University of Maryland, and wants to continue working for the Department of Defense.

He says he’s resolved to live every day in way that honors the men he lost, and the second chance at life he has now.

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter
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