Nightly News   |  December 31, 2013

Medal of Honor Recipients Share Their Stories

NBC’s Matt Lauer sat down with three men who served in Afghanistan as well as NBC’s own Col. Jack Jacobs, who spoke about what the Medal of Honor means to them.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we end the program and the year on an inspiring note, with a tribute to some of those who have served this country well and with courage. four recipients of the medal of honor . matt lauer recently sat down with them to talk about their service and sacrifice.

>> staff sergeant petri and with complete disregard for his safety picked up the grenade and helped his fellow soldiers, amputating his right hand at the wrist. specialist carter woke up to an attack of over 300 enemy fighters, and without regard to his own wounds, he helped a critically wounded soldier. specialist giunta exposed himself to enemy fire , observing two insurgents carrying away an american soldier . he immediately engaged the enemy, despite the profuse bleed i ing, captain jacobs returned to intense fire to help bring a soldier to safety. his extraordinary heroism saved the lives of one u.s. adviser and 13 allied soldiers.

>> raise your hands if you were afraid that day. everybody who has ever spent a minute in combat carries that moment with them for the rest of his life.

>> when you look in the mirror, and you see that medal around your neck what do you think of?

>> i think of all the service members who have served and are continuing to serve and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

>> on a really bad day where everything went wrong you followed your instincts and did what you thought was right. and you had the fortune to survive, where others did not.

>> you wear it where others can't, you represent tens of millions of american men and women who sacrificed and served so that we can enjoy freedom. whenever i put it on, i still can't help thinking about everybody else .

>> outside of battle, what makes you afraid today?

>> my biggest fear is with my daughter. to not be able to hand over the awesome country that i was given to the next generation.

>> better wait until her teenage years.

>> sergeant?

>> i'm still active duty. i fear that i will fail as a husband, or i'll fail as a father. so every time my daughter gets up and starts walking i fear i wouldn't be there to catch her when she falls or when my son goes to school if i have not taught him on being a proper gentleman, where have i failed there.

>> during the season, people will travel and see members of the military getting on and off the planes and getting in uniform. what should we say to those people when we see them?

>> just thank you.

>> that is one of the greatest rewards a service member can get is a simple thank you.

>> let me end this by acting on the advice of four great men, and i'll simply end by saying thank you. to all of you.

>> you're very welcome.

>> you're welcome.