President Obama will sign a Medal of Honor citation today – the first of his presidency. The Medal will be presented to the parents of Sgt 1st Class Jared Monti, a 30-year old member of 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary Regiment. He was killed June 21st near the Gremen Valley in the remote mountains of northeastern Afghanistan (click here to see the location of the battle) while trying to save a wounded Soldier under his command during an intense firefight against Taliban insurgents.
Monti and fifteen Soldiers under his command had crept to a secluded ridge overlooking the valley to prepare for a larger force coming behind them. That force was delayed for three days, leaving the sixteen men to hunker down and avoid detection. Eventually they were spotted and the small group was soon surrounded by sixty to seventy insurgents armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.
The fighting was desperate and intense, and grew more dire as the insurgents split up to encircle them. As the squad continued fighting, Monti realized he was missing a Soldier. He called out to Private Brian Bradbury, and was met with a weak reply. Bradbury was badly wounded and could not move.
Monti told him he was coming to get him, and sprinted toward his injured comrade. Machine gun fire erupted and Monti dove toward cover. He tried again but was met with even more fire. On his third attempt he was hit by a rocket propelled grenade.
The blast tore off both of his legs. He had enough strength to drag himself to cover. “With his last breaths, his soldiers later reported, Monti said he made his peace with God. And right before he died he asked them to tell his family he loved them.” (Boston Globe)
Eventually, mortar fire and air support that Monti had requested beat back the attack and the insurgents withdrew.
Tragically, the wounded Soldier and Staff Sergeant Heathe Craig, a medic who was with him as he was being hoisted to a rescue helicopter, were killed when the hoist broke and they fell to their deaths. Sergeant Patrick Lybert was also killed during the engagement.
His mother later told the Boston Globe, “â€œHe would say this medal isnâ€™t just for me. He would want to share this medal with everybody who died that day.â€™â€™
Sgt. 1st Class Monti gave his own life trying to protect his men. And today, our President and nation pause to contemplate his actions and salute him for being a true hero with the presentation of the Medal of Honor.
For a summary of his life and the entire battle, read the Boston Globe article titled, “He could not leave a comrade behind.”
The Army also hosts a website dedicated to Sgt. 1st Class Monti, including pictures, an interactive map, and his Medal of Honor citation.