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Medal of Honor Recipient Capt. Florent Groberg, U.S. Army (Retired)
Retired U.S. Army Captain Florent Groberg shares his experiences in Afghanistan, including the remarkable events of Aug. 8, 2012—during which he distinguished himself in combat by subduing a suicide bomber with complete disregard for his own personal safety. Capt. Groberg will be officially presented the nation's highest award for valor during a Nov. 12 ceremony at The White House, making him the 10th living recipient of the MOH from the War in Afghanistan.
On the morning of Aug. 8, 2012, U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg served as a personal security detachment (PSD) commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior—responsible for the safety of 28 coalition and Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel, including several principals: two brigade commanders, two battalion commanders, the brigade command sergeant major, a battalion command sergeant major and an ANA battalion commander.
The patrol's escort mission included moving on foot from Forward Operating Base Fiaz to the provincial governor's compound in Asadabad, Kunar, Afghanistan for a weekly security meeting.
As the patrol advanced toward the governor's compound, they reached the choke point along the route, a small bridge spanning a canal feeding the Kunar River. The patrol halted near the bridge as two motorcycles approached from the opposite direction. The motorcyclists began crossing the bridge, but stopped midway before dismounting and retreating in the opposite direction.
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 individual did not cause immediate alarm as there were other local civilians in the area.
However, when he made an abrupt turn toward the formation, Groberg rushed the suspect and shoved him away from the patrol. Groberg then immediately confirmed the individual was wearing a suicide vest, and with the help of Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, a fellow Soldier with the PSD, grabbed the suicide bomber, physically driving him away from the formation and down to the ground.
While on the ground, the bomber's explosive vest detonated. The explosion caused a second suicide bomber, who remained hidden behind a small structure near the road, to detonate his vest prematurely. Most of the blast of the second bomber's suicide vest went straight into a building, adjacent to the patrol.
Groberg's actions disrupted both bombers from detonating as planned, saving the majority of lives he was charged with protecting.
“We defeated the enemy on that day. We sent a message that no matter how bad you want to hurt us, we're always going to keep standing up and bringing it back twice fold on you. But it was the worst day of my life, because even though we defeated the enemy, I lost four of my brothers.” — Capt. Florent Groberg, U.S. Army (Retired)
As a result of his actions, Groberg sustained the loss of 45 to 50 percent of his left calf muscle with significant nerve damage, a blown eardrum, and a mild traumatic brain injury. Groberg spent his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from August 2012 through May 2015. He was medically retired from Company B Warriors, Warrior Transition Battalion, as a captain, July 23, 2015.
CAPT. FLORENT "FLO" GROBERG, U.S. ARMY (RET.) was born in France and naturalized a U.S. citizen in 2001, graduating from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, MD in June of that year. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, where he competed in varsity track and cross country, Groberg entered the Army in July 2008 and attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. He received his commission as an infantry officer, Dec. 4, 2008.
After completing Infantry Officer Basic Course, Mechanized Leaders Course, U.S. Army Airborne and U.S. Army Ranger Schools, he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., as a platoon leader. In November 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Lethal, with responsibility for the Pech River Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province.
Upon returning home in June 2010, he continued serving as a platoon leader until he was reassigned as an infantry company executive officer from October 2010 to November 2011. He was then assigned as the brigade personal security detachment commander for 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He deployed again to Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in February of 2012, with Task Force Mountain Warrior. He was promoted to captain in July 2012, and was medically retired from Company B Warriors, Warrior Transition Battalion July 23, 2015.
Groberg's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars; the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the U.S. Army Parachutists Badge, the U.S. Army Ranger Tab, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Groberg currently resides in the National Capital Region and is a civilian employee of the Department of Defense.
CAPT. JOHN ALLEN WILLIAMS, PhD, USNR (RET.) is a professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago and a member of the Museum & Library's Board of Directors. His writings include works on military strategy, military forces and missions, military culture, professional military education, and strategic policy. Among his latest books are The Postmodern Military: Armed Forces after the Cold War and U.S. National Security: Policymakers, Processes, and Politics.