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Albertsons dedicates store memorial to local Medal of Honor recipient

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Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry likes to think of himself as a general member of the Lakewood and Steilacoom communities. The broader population, however, knows him as a high-profile Medal of Honor recipient and military hero.

In connection with the official grand reopening of the Lakewood Albertsons on Oct. 31, three framed military pictures were unveiled on a wall near the front of the newly remodeled store. One of the photos shows Petry and his fellow Soldiers.

Local dignitaries, Clover Park and Steilacoom School District school officials and store staff honored Petry, 33, for his heroic actions in Afghanistan during a daring daytime battle in May 2008 between his Ranger unit and the enemy.

Petry likely saved two members of his 75th Ranger Regiment from serious injury or death when he tossed a live grenade away from them during the raid, which was aimed at capturing a significant target. As he was releasing it, the grenade exploded, completely severing Petry's right arm.

The store's memorial symbolizes Petry's and other Servicemembers' courageous efforts in fighting for their country. Petry's son, 18-year-old Austin West, is a customer service clerk for Albertsons, and Dan Ruff, operations specialist and close friend, said it made sense for the store to honor Petry.

"We're proud of him and happy he's part of the community," said Ruff, who described Petry as a down-to-earth person and happy father and husband.

Petry, a Steilacoom resident, feels good about the wall dedication.

"I'm part of this community," he said. "I shop here all the time."

Petry joined an elite group when he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a July 2011 ceremony at the White House.

He wears a state-of-the-art prosthetic on his right arm that displays the names of fallen Rangers. He's completed a combined eight tours to Iraq and Afghanistan and remains on active duty while assisting injured Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and attending Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom.

Sgt. 1st Class Rex Swartz wasn't aware of the Albertsons event until he arrived with his wife. They visit the store at least twice a week for lunch.

"It makes you feel a little more at home knowing they dedicated the wall to a Soldier," Swartz said. "It's nice to know the general population is supporting the military regardless of what's going on."

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