Retired Army captain uncomfortable for receiving Medal of Honor for role in saving lives in Afghanistan
COLORADO SPRINGS — A retired Army captain from Fort Carson set to receive the Medal of Honor next month said it will never truly be his.
Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg tackled a suspicious man who turned out to be a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Aug. 8, 2012, while providing security for a group led by Fort Carson Brig. Gen. James Mingus. Four men were killed when a second bomber detonated his explosives, but the commander and the rest of his group, including Afghan officials, survived.
The first bomber landed on Groberg’s feet and detonated, badly wounding his legs.
Groberg, 32, told The Colorado Springs Gazette that he happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right training
“I don’t feel really comfortable with it,” he said. “But it gives me a chance to talk about the four guys that were lost and their families.”
Those killed were Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Con-yers, 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.
On the day of the attack, Mingus was leading a contingent to a meeting with the governor of Kunar province. They were walking from a U.S. outpost to the compound in Asadabad when the group was stopped by approaching motorcycles. The security detail then noticed two men who looked suspicious. When one of them turned toward the group, Groberg tackled him with the help of Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, who earned a Silver Star.
Mingus said the death toll could have been higher. Groberg’s quick response caused the second man to prematurely detonate his device, he said.
Groberg was born in France, moved to Maryland when he was 11 and became a U.S. citizen in 2011. He worked for a civilian high-tech firm before joining the Army in 2008 and attending officer candidate school.