Medal of Honor recipient Sal Guinta returns to his home state and home town today. Guinta became the only living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Iraq/Afghanistan era one week ago as President Barack Obama fastened the blue ribbon and medal around his neck in a ceremony at the White House.
Governor Chet Culver is recognizing Staff Sergeant Guinta in a ceremony in the rotunda of the state capitol building today at 11:30. The will be followed by a receiving line for the public. Once the event in Des Moines is over, Guinta returns to his hometown of Hiawatha for a parade and an event at the local American Legion post.
Post 735 commander Bob Jones, says they have been scrambling to get the event organized. Jones says they started planning Friday morning at 8:30 and things have grown by leaps and bounds. He says he’s contacted many of the veterans organizations in the Linn County area and they expect many to show up for the event.
Jones, a Vietnam era veteran, says he did know Guinta as one of his sophomore coaches at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School. “I don’t know whether he remembers me, and I just barely remember him, and that’s the only contact, as far as I know that anyone at the legion post has had with Sal,” Jones says.
Jones says he has had a chance to meet with Guinta’s parents since the award was announced, and says they are a great reflection of the community. Jones says “there’s just not a nicer couple on the face of the earth” and says they are salt of the earth “just good old Iowa people” that are “super, super nice people.” Jones says they understand they understand the hectic schedule Guinta has had since the White House ceremony says they hope to simply make Guinta feel at home.
Jones says they will present Guinta with a honorary lifetime membership to the post, they have a photo up of him already and have another special surprise planned that they will unveil during his visit. Jones says there are 86 members at the Hiwawatha post and 25 to 30 of them are from the Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan era.