Today Lt. Cmdr. James Gennari, a 52-year-old Navy trauma nurse, will receive the Bronze Star for the heroism he displayed when he removed a live rocket-propelled grenade from a Marine’s leg in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Gennari, who is stationed at the military hospital at Naval Station Great Lakes near North Chicago, served in Afghanistan from August 2011 until this March. Gennari, whose permanent home is in East Chicago, Ind., treated the wounded at Forward Operating Base Edinburgh in Helmand Province.
On Jan. 12, Gennari received word that an incoming helicopter carried a Marine with a live rocket-propelled grenade, fired by an enemy combatant, lodged in his leg, he said. The Marine, Cpl. Winder Perez, was taken to a safe area outside the hospital. The surgeon on hand told Gennari he didn’t have to risk his life by treating the man.
“I said ‘I’m a nurse. That’s my job. I’m going,’” said Gennari, who was aided in the procedure by Army Staff Sgt. Ben Summerfield.
In this video, filmed January 2012 in Afghanistan, Lt. Cmdr. James Gennari (right) provides medical support while Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist Army Staff Sgt. Benjamin Summerfield (left) removes an unexploded rocket propelled grenade from the leg of Marine Cpl. Winder Perez.