EIGHT SECONDS OF VALOR

From immigrant to Medal of Honor recipient. Retired U.S. Army Captain Florent “Flo” Groberg takes us through his journey, from his early days as an American citizen to the eight seconds of courage that changed his life and saved the lives of others.

Aired on November 9, 2017.

TRANSCRIPT

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METRO FOCUS,' I AM JENNIFER FLANAGAN.

IN AUGUST OF 2012, CAPTAIN GROVER CAME FACE TO FACE WITH A SUICIDE FRONT BOMBER WHILE FIGHTING IN THE FRONT LINE OF AFGHANISTAN.

HE TACTKLED TO SAVE LIVES AT TH RISK OF HIS OWN.

AFTER 30 SURGERIES, THE CAPTAIN HAVE BEEN BESTOWED THE HIGHEST HONOR AND HE'S TELLING THE STORY OF WHAT MOTIVATED HIS HEROISM AND EIGHT SECONDS OF COURAGE AND A MEDAL OF HONOR.

CAPTAIN, WELCOME TO 'METRO FOCUS.'

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

THERE IS SO MANY STORY INVOLVED IN YOUR BOOK.

TAKE ME BACK TO THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU MADE THE DECISION, WHAT DROVE YOU.

RWE ARE IN A LITTLE CITY AND AT THAT TIME, I RAN A PERSONALIZED SECURITY DETAIL FOR COLONEL MINGUS AND WE ARE GOING THROUGH SECURITY MEETING AND WE HAVE DONE THIS MULTIPLE TIMES AND SO WE NEED A ROUTE AND IT WAS RELATIVELY SAFE.

WHEN WE ARRIVED THAT DAY, THINGS DID NOT FEEL RIGHT AND SO WE LANDED OUR COMBAT POST ABOUT 100 MILES AWAY FROM OUR MEETING.

WE HAD TO WALK OFF OUR MILITARY BASE TO GET TO THIS LOCATION FOR THE MEETING AND DURING THAT WALK, THINGS FELT A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

UH-HUH.

AT FIRST IT IS FINE BUT THEN JUST, WE FELT THAT WE WERE BEING FOLLOWED AND GETTING THE SIXTH SENSE OF EERIE FEELING, THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED AND TWO MOTORCYCLES CAME AT US, AND AT THAT POINT, I KNEW.

OUR ARMY UP FRONT DID A GOOD JOB INTERCEPTED AND MORE CYCLES, THERE WAS A DIVERSION.

A MAN CAME OUT OF THE STRUCTURE TO OUR LEFT AND HE WAS WEARING A SUICIDE VEST.

HE WAS WORKING BACKWARD AND DID A 90 DEGREES TURN AND I WAS THE CLOSEST TO HIM AND SINCE I IDENTIFIED HIM AND I GRABBED HIM AND REALIZED HE HAD A VEST I DON'T KNOW AND I YELLED 'BOMB' AND HE DETONATED.

WOW, AFTER THAT HAPPENS, YOUR STORY GETS OUT AND YOU CAME BACK TO THE STATE AND YOU ARE AWARDED THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR, WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THAT?

SOMETIMES SOLDIERS DON'T FEEL THE HEROISM THAT SO MANY LOOK AT YOU AND FEEL.

WELL, YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT CELEBRATING THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE AND ON AUGUST 8, 2012, IT IS ABOUT MAJOR GRAY AND KENNEDY, FOUR INCREDIBLE MEN WHO NEVER CAME HOME.

THEY WERE KILLED BY THE BOMBER.

I WAS SOMEHOW MAGICALLY SPARED AND SO IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO RECOVER FROM THE SURVIVOR'S GUILT THAN THE REALITY OF MY LIFE.

I HAD TO LIVE MY LIFE EVERY SINGLE DAY TO HONOR THESE INCREDIBLE MEN AND FAMILIES.

PRESIDENT OBAMA PRESENTED ME THE MEDAL OF HONOR, TO ME, IT WAS AN AWKWARD MOMENT AND I FELT ASHAMED OF BECAUSE HERE I WAS, THEY'RE CONGRATULATING ME TELLING ME I WAS A HERO WHEN I WAS LOOKING AT THREE FAMILIES AT THE TEAM OF THE WHITE HOUSE WHO LOST A KEY MEMBER OF THEIR FAMILY, A LOVED ONE.

TO ME, I NEVER DID MY JOB TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY BECAUSE FOUR OF MY BROTHERS DID NOT COME HOME.

THAT'S SOMETHING I HAD TO DEAL WITH INTERNALLY.

I AM A MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILY.

IT IS TOUGH.

WELL, AS DIFFICULT AS THAT WAS, WE DO STILL THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SERVICE.

I DO WANT TO TURN THIS A LITTLE BIT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE FROM GOING FROM IMMIGRANT TO AMERICA TO MEDAL OF HONOR WINNER.

HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST CAME TO AMERICA?

I WAS GOING TO MY TWELFTH BIRTHDAY.

I WAS ADOPTED BY LARRY GROVER, MY FATHER.

WE MOVED TO THE CHICAGO AREA.

IT WAS A CULTURE SHOCK, ONE, I DID NOT SPEAK ENGLISH AND I LEARNED QUICKLY.

YEAH.

IT WAS VERY DIFFERENT.

I AM SO GRATEFUL.

I AM SO GRATEFUL THAT I WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE IT LED ME TO THE PATH THAT I AM ON TODAY.

TAKING US TO THE UNITED STATES AND GIVEN ME THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY TO FURTHER MY EDUCATION TO THE POINT WHERE I WANT TO JOIN MY MILITARY BASED ON PERSONAL REASONS.

I AM GRATEFUL AND THANKFUL AND BLESSED.

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR IMMIGRANT STORY FITS INTO THE LARGER NARRATIVE.

IT IS SOMETHING THAT THIS COUNTRY IS STRUGGLING WITH AT THE MOMENT.

HERE WE HAVE THE AMAZING MOMENT OF HEROISM FROM AN IMMIGRANT.

WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO ADMIT IT IS A GOOD THING HERE, WE HAVE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO SUCCEED.

THE OPPORTUNITY HERE IS NOT THE SAME ANYWHERE ELSE.

IF YOU WORK HARD AND YOU ASSOCIATE YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND YOU NEVER GIVE UP AND WHEN YOU ARE KNOCKED DOWN AND GET BACKUP, WHEN YOU ARE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, YOU ACTUALLY, ENJOY THE OPPORTUNITY AND MAKE SURE YOU DO SOMETHING WITH THAT OPPORTUNITY, YOU CAN MAKE SOMETHING YOURSELF THAT'S GREATER THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT YOU COULD.

I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE THE MEDAL OF HONOR, I NEVER WANTED IT AND I NEVER WANTED ANY MEDAL.

I WANT TO SERVE MY COUNTRY HONORABLY.

THIS COUNTRY ALLOWS ME TO CALL MYSELF AMERICA.

CAPTAIN GROVER, I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR YOUR SERVICE, OF COURSE, THIS BOOK IS AN INCREDIBLE READ, JUST ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS AN IMMIGRANT A IN AMERICA AND FIGHTING THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AND SHARING YOUR STORY.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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