Lt. Cmdr. James Gennari (right) and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Army Staff Sgt. Ben Summerfield (left) remove a live mortar from the leg of Marine Cpl. Winder Perez in January 2012. Gennari will be awarded a bronze star for his actions Aug. 9, 2012.
A Lovell Federal Health Care Center Sailor received a bronze star in North Chicago Thursday for his role in a medical miracle while in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Lt. Cmdr. James Gennari helped to remove a live rocket-propelled grenade from his comrade's thigh while on duty as a nurse last January.
"Fins of the RPG were sticking out of his left leg, mid-thigh," he said.
But that did not stop Gennari and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Army Staff Sgt. Ben Summerfield from trying to remove the live ammunition from Marine Cpl. Winder Perez's leg.
"I took his hand and I said 'I promise I will not leave you 'till that thing's out of your leg,'" Gennari said.
It was a promise he intended to keep even with the risk of an explosion.
"Well, there was a split second where I thought that thing could blow up, but I also knew if it did it wasn't because I did anything wrong, so I just left that up to God and I just did my job," he said.
The two men did that job, administering medication and helping twist and pull as they removed the grenade from Perez's leg.
With the grenade out, Perez is still recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
"He's getting ready to start running; he's been doing speed walking," Gennari said.
Getting bronze stars is also something of a family tradition for Gennari. His father was awarded one for service in the Korean War.