What it feels like to be a Medal of Honor recipient

WASHINGTON -- Capt. Florent Groberg of the United States Army stood tall as he choked back tears Thursday when the president awarded him the Medal of Honor -- the military's highest honor given for valor above and beyond the call of duty.

"It feels like something that you don't deserve," said Groberg. "The army and government and president decided to award me this, this medal for the worst day of my life."

It feels "overwhelming, confusing, not exciting," he said.

On Aug. 8, 2012, Groberg was in charge of protecting his brigade commander and a couple of other VIPs in Afghanistan as they made a short march to the provincial governor's compound.

"It's just one of those weird moments that you get in combat, where soon as you get on the ground, just, things don't feel right," said Groberg.

Groberg would normally have been at the rear of a protective diamond around the VIPs. This time he went to the front.

"I wanted to see where we were walking. I wanted to have better eyes on," Groberg said.

Groberg spotted a man coming toward them from the left.

"He's a threat, and my only thing in the world that I have to do at that specific moment is eliminate the threat, no matter what it takes."

Asked why he didn't just shoot the man, Groberg said, "Can't just start shooting anyone. Didn't see a weapon on him. You know, so I can't pick up my rifle and shoot him.

Groberg, followed by Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, rushed him.

"I dropped my rifle, you know, grabbed him and realized that, at this point, he's got plates on his, on his chest."

He was a suicide bomber. Groberg and Mahoney threw him to the ground.

"When he blew up, his chest first blew up into the ground, which took the impact and was probably the reason why I'm here talking to you today," Groberg said.

And why so many other soldiers who were there that day were in the audience Thursday.

But moments later, a second suicide bomber hiding inside a nearby building detonated his vest,

And between them, the bombers killed four men, which made it the worst day of Groberg's life.

"This medal that I will be receiving, I'd turn it right back in, right now, say, 'No thank you. Bring my guys back, right here,'" said Groberg.

That's what it feels like to be a war hero.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.