"We always used to say, `How awesome would it be to put a machine gun on the back that little cart?'" he said laughing.
But he said getting the medal was a solemn moment to remember the two soldiers that were killed in the attack, Pfc. Andrew Meari and Spc. Jonathan Curtis.
"The ultimate sacrifice to me is what defines a hero," he said. "That's why I keep saying I don't think I have done anything beyond my duty."
Odierno said while Pereira thinks he was only doing his duty and that his squad all fought together, he deserves the award.
"You were awarded this honor because you went above and beyond the call of duty, selflessly rescuing other soldiers before attending to your own injuries and wear it proudly knowing that this medal represents the thanks of a grateful nation," Odierno said during the ceremony.
Denise Meehan, whose son Andrew Meari was killed in the suicide bombing, said Pereira was one of the first soldiers from the unit to reach out to her personally.
"To me, it was only a matter of time until such recognition was granted him," she said.