President Barack Obama said Thursday that a young Army captain who is the newest Medal of Honor recipient had the instincts and courage to tackle a suicide bomber in Afghanistan during a moment of selfless bravery, saving the lives of many comrades. Florent Groberg is the 10th living service member from actions in Iraq or Afghanistan to be awarded the medal, the nation's highest honor for battlefield bravery. Four people were still killed in the August 2012 attack, and Groberg, now 32 and medically retired from the Army, suffered a leg injury so severe he needed 33 surgeries to save it. But Obama said what helped make Groberg a "great runner" while a track competitor at the University of Maryland also made him a "great soldier." Groberg, a French native naturalized here in 2001, deployed to Afghanistan's Kunar province in November 2009 and again in February 2012. He was helping lead an escort for a meeting with an Afghan provincial governor when his unit encountered the bomber.
Groberg, with assistance from another soldier in the security detail, tackled him to the ground, where the bomber's vest detonated. Groberg spent nearly three years recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Obama told a story at the White House medal ceremony, noting that when Groberg came to in the hospital after the explosion, he thought he was in Germany and that the lead singer from the heavy-metal band Korn was at his bedside talking to him. "Flo thought, 'What's going on? Am I hallucinating?'" Obama said. "Today, Flo, I want to assure you you are not hallucinating. You are actually in the White House." The president jokingly added, "Those cameras are on. I am not the lead singer from Korn." Groberg, meanwhile, has said he shares the medal with the four who didn't get to come home alive. (A shocking discovery was made before a Medal of Honor ceremony over the summer.)