Graphic novel tells story of Army captain who tackled suicide bomber

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A new graphic novel tells the story of a soldier who received the Medal of Honor for tackling a suicide bomber to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

“Medal of Honor: Flo Groberg” provides a succinct overview of Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg’s life, from his childhood in France to the heroic act that saved the lives of many and made him a Medal of Honor recipient in 2015. It was written by Chuck Dixon, drawn by Geof Isherwood, and colored by Peter Pantazis, with lettering by Troy Peteri.

Groberg, who served with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was the first foreign-born recipient of the nation’s highest military award for valor since the Vietnam War.

The Association of the United States Army published the newest edition of their Medal of Honor series, which began in 2018, on May 22. Other issues have covered past Medal of Honor recipients, including Alvin York, Daniel Inouye and Alwyn Cashe, among others.

“The whole idea of the series is to use the graphic novel format as a way to reach out to a new generation and teach them about Army history and Army values,” said Joseph Craig, director of the book program for the Association of the United States Army.

He said they employ seasoned professionals from the comic book world to help bring the stories to life, relying on award citations and government and military documents to paint a cohesive narrative. They also work with professional historians to ensure biographical details are accurate.

On Aug. 8, 2012, Groberg was escorting 28 coalition and Afghan National Army personnel to a security meeting in Afghanistan while serving as a personal security detachment commander, according to the Army.

Halfway to their destination, a suicide bomber approached the group. Groberg rushed the attacker with the help of another soldier, pushing him away from the group as his vest exploded.

The blast caused the suicide vest of a second unseen suicide bomber to detonate prematurely, primarily striking a nearby building.

Groberg’s actions caused the bombs to detonate away from the group, saving countless lives.

Four soldiers died that day, including U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, U.S. Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, U.S. Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray and USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah.

16 other soldiers were injured.

As a result of the explosion, Groberg lost nearly half of his left calf muscle, while also suffering nerve damage, a blown eardrum and a traumatic brain injury. He spent nearly three years recovering and medically retired from the Army on July 23, 2015.

Former President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on Groberg during a ceremony Nov. 12, 2015.

“On his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best,” Obama said at the White House ceremony.

Groberg, in a 2020 interview with Military Times, described the history of his dedication to the armed forces.

Growing up, his uncle was killed in 1996 by terrorists in Algeria.

Groberg says his uncle fought for what he believed in and, as a result, was shot, beheaded and dismembered, all during a ceasefire. His remains were sent in a box to Groberg’s grandfather.

Groberg was 12 at the time and says he realized then what it meant to serve a purpose. When 9/11 happened, he said he realized his purpose: to serve a country that had adopted him and given him opportunities.

Only five months after becoming a citizen of the United States of America, Groberg enlisted in the Army.

“The proudest thing I have ever done in my life is to wear this uniform and serve my country,” he said in a statement on the Army’s website.

Riley Ceder is an editorial fellow at Military Times, where he covers breaking news, criminal justice and human interest stories. He previously worked as an investigative practicum student at The Washington Post, where he contributed to the ongoing Abused by the Badge investigation.

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