FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan –
Flo Groberg celebrated Christmas at home with his brothers- and sisters-in-arms this year.
Home is this base outside Jalalabad where Groberg was deployed in 2012 as an Army 1st lieutenant.
After retiring as a captain, he has returned as a symbol of bravery and resiliency for the soldiers of this base. Now, Groberg wears the Medal of Honor around his neck for his actions in nearby Asadabad on Aug. 8, 2012, when he was severely injured attempting to stop an attack on his patrol by suicide bombers.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, invited Groberg to accompany him for the 2017 USO Holiday Tour, an invitation he said he immediately accepted.
Groberg’s first stop upon arriving at the base was to visit the memorial at the entrance to the base. The names of the four Americans killed in the attack in Asadabad are engraved there.
“I left [Forward Operating Base] Fenty on a stretcher,” Groberg told the soldiers. “I spent the next couple of months of my life -- hell, years -- at Walter Reed Hospital to recover. One thing I never lost: From the first day I came into the United States Army and I put on that uniform that you are wearing, I held onto my warrior ethos -- that will to fight and destroy the enemy.”
Best of the Best
The Army and the country needs that ethos, because “the reality is, we’re at war,” Groberg said. “The reality is the work you do every single day is an honor -- you are the best of the best.
“I am back here to tell the enemy who blew me up and killed my brothers that I’m still standing. They can’t keep me down. I still have my spirit.”
Groberg told the soldiers that they are doing the job that he can’t do anymore. “For that, I honor you,” he said. “There is no better place in the world to be today -- on Christmas Eve -- than spending the holidays with you.”
The chairman also thanked the soldiers for their sacrifices and stressed that those sacrifices have been worth it to the nation. “There’s a lot of people back home this year, they are enjoying the Christmas holidays, they go into a mall, they don’t think twice about their security, they drive around and conduct their lives not thinking twice about terrorists,” Dunford said. “I’m firmly convinced … that the reason they can do that is because we are playing an away game here, instead of a home game.
He told the soldiers that he believes the reason America has not seen another 9/11 is because of the men and women who have deployed to Afghanistan over the past 16 years. “So thanks for what you are doing,” he said.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDODNews)