Medal of Honor recipients share their wisdom with the Ranch

Two Medal of Honor recipients share their stories and advice with Wiregrass students.

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Medal of Honor recipients share their wisdom with the Ranch

The Medal of Honor ceremony attendees with John Baca and Florent Groberg.

The Medal of Honor ceremony attendees with John Baca and Florent Groberg.

Ashley Swain

The Medal of Honor ceremony attendees with John Baca and Florent Groberg.

Ashley Swain

Ashley Swain

The Medal of Honor ceremony attendees with John Baca and Florent Groberg.

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Friendship. Communication. Forgiveness. Medal of Honor recipients, John Baca and Florent Groberg spoke on the importance of these qualities during a presentation at Wiregrass Ranch on October 24th.

Baca and Groberg both earned their medals because of their sacrifice and bravery. Baca laid his helmet and himself on top of a grenade in Vietnam in 1970, and Groberg tackled a suicide bomber before they could reach a U.S. military base in Afghanistan in 2012.  

Groberg explained that being a holder of the medal, is the most “humbling and greatest honor you can receive on this earth,” but he believes his medal belongs to more than just himself.

“This medal belongs to this country, this nation,” Groberg explained. “For me specifically, it belongs to four of my friends who died on the day I received this medal for.”

Ashley Swain
Groberg and Baca’s Medals of Honor.

During these words both Baca and Groberg passed around their Medals of Honor for the attendees to hold.

Groberg enlisted in the military with a lot of hate due to his uncle being killed by terrorism, but discussed how he found love in the military with the brotherhood and friendship he found there.

“You’re willing to sacrifice your life for each other, without even realizing you’re doing it,” Groberg explained.

He went on to discuss the survivor’s guilt he felt after tackling the suicide bomber and living while his four friends died.

“I realized, end of 2012, that none of these [terrorist] organizations were as tough and more lethal than my own mind,” Groberg said.

The way he dealt with it, is the same advice he gave to the students of Wiregrass Ranch.

“Be willing to have a conversation with each other,” Groberg explained. “There is nothing more powerful than a conversation.”

Baca, expressed a similar sentiment, on the importance of friendship when reflecting on his sacrifice during the war.

There is nothing more powerful than a conversation.”

— Florent Groberg

“You find a friend and you keep them for life,” Baca said.

Baca was drafted in the Vietnam War in 1969. 20 years later, Baca went back to help build a clinic in South Vietnam. He explained that the Vietnamese workers were confused why so many American veterans were not being welcomed back home or still struggling with things they did during the war.

“We have forgiven you, but you come back to your home and you’re not welcome home,” he explained. “You learn to forgive yourself and forgive one another.”

Braeden Erdmann Baca and Groberg sharing a laugh during the presentation.

Baca emphasized the significance of not just forgiving each other, but yourself as well.

Students were left emotional as the presentation came to end. One student, senior Kylie Ehman, was very touched by the presentation.

“They both were selfless and talked about forgiving the enemy even after everything they both were put through,” Ehman explained.

Government teacher, Rachel Miller, organized the presentation. She expressed what she hoped the students learned from the recipients.

“I hope the students learned about humility and sacrifice from men who were willing to give their life to save their friends,” Miller explained. “We can learn so much from their courage and willingness to do whatever they had to do for their fellow man.”

Ashley Swain
Emma Kerrick giving a hug to Baca after the presentation.

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