PASCO -- As the nation watched President Obama present the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta on Tuesday, a Tri-City family proudly watched a soldier standing by him.
Army Spc. Garrett Clary of Pasco and his other team members were at the White House for the ceremony because Giunta wasn't alone Oct. 25, 2007, as he ran through a hail of Taliban bullets.
They all are members of Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, stationed in Vicenza, Italy. And all of them fought together to repel a fierce attack that killed two of their members.
Clary's grandparents, Gloria and Kenneth Clary of Pasco, watched the ceremony in real time. But his mom, Jeannette Clary of Pasco, doesn't get that channel on her TV, so they recorded it for her.
"I watched it this morning with my parents," Jeannette said.
"It was exciting to see my son and exciting to see him in his dress uniform. But bittersweet too. To know that my son was involved and could have been lost instead of Josh (Brennan) or Hugo (Mendoza)."
The Taliban attack happened as Giunta and his men were hiking back to their base after dark and walked into a two-sided ambush.
Three of the soldiers were injured. One was team leader Sgt. Joshua Brennan, who was out of sight behind a rise and badly wounded as he walked into the ambush.
Giunta charged ahead and rescued the mortally injured soldier from two Taliban fighters who were dragging him away. Clary was right behind Giunta, also firing at the enemy with his rifle and grenade launcher.
"I just learned myself that Garrett was only 10 meters behind Giunta. He stood guard while they administered first aid to Josh (Brennan)," his mother said.
The attack happened during Clary's first tour in Afghanistan, when he was 20 years old. Later, on leave, he visited his family in the Tri-Cities.
"He showed me and my daughter, LynDee (Clary), his body armor. It showed where he'd been hit that day," Jeannette said. "They all received bullet hits to their armor."
During his visit, Garrett also shared some of what had happened with his family.
"The Army kept a lot under wraps," she said. "But he wanted us to know he was a part of what happened. He told me Oct. 25 is a date he'll never forget."
Garrett has just completed his second tour of Afghanistan. He was there for the past year and a half, until the Army pulled him out early to attend the White House ceremony before sending him to Italy.
He was in the United States for only a few days, but will be visiting his family in December with his Italian fiancee, Ambra Dellarosa.
"I'm proud of my son," his mother said. "Yet, again, it's bittersweet. I was grateful to watch my son and the other gentlemen at the ceremony -- yet, at the same time sad for the families who have lost someone and the sacrifices they do for us. It's a very humbling experience."
An account of the ambush and the squad's actions is available on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvatore_Giunta.