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Medal of Honor recipient gives back with Green Bay connection

Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta. (WLUK image)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- For the past five years former Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta has been handing out medals, not the Medal of Honor but the Scholarship of Honor.

FOX 11 introduced you to Giunta back in 2012 at his high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There he was preparing to hand out his first Scholarship of Honor medal.

“I would never foresee myself nine years after graduating high school coming back to my high school and given out a scholarship,” said Giunta, “and one that is so important one that represents such incredible men.”

The Sal Giunta scholarship is in memory of Sgt Joshua Brennan and Specialist Hugo Mendoza, the two men in his unit he fearlessly fought to keep out of enemy hands during a gunfight in Afghanistan back in 2007. His actions led to him receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Obama in 2010.

That's the same medal he gave to his military unit, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, less than two weeks ago in Italy. He says he felt the entire unit should be honored.

But for years now he has been honoring Brennan and Mendoza with his own scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship and accompanying medal is awarded to a student looking to make a difference in the lives of others. He told FOX 11 five years ago that's what it's all about.

“I think anytime you have people trying to help people. It's a good thing and I want to do a good thing,” he said at the time.

Giunta's Scholarship of Honor is part of the dozens of scholarships awarded each year through the Brian LaViolette scholarship foundation of Northeast Wisconsin.

Doug LaViolette heads up the foundation named after his son who died in a swimming accident in 1992. Giunta's scholarship fit perfectly with the foundation's mission.

“He was the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam war and an awful lot of our scholarships revolve around the Scholarship of Honor and supporting, recognizing and honoring those who serve in the military,” said LaViolette.

This year marks 25 years the foundation has awarded scholarships to students looking to give back to their communities. Giunta will be the featured speaker at the foundation's 25th anniversary event at Lambeau Field on Aug. 8. Click here for event details here.

“We're proud of what we accomplished so far,” said LaViolette, “and I think Sal is going to be a part of that for generations to come.”

“It's wild how not part of my plan this was and how great of a new plan this has created for me,” said Giunta five years ago. A statement that holds true today.

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