President Obama Presents Medal of Honor to Massachusetts Hero
A couple of months ago, President Obama announced that he would be awarding the Medal of Honor to Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, who was killed by enemy fire on June 21, 2006, while trying to rescue wounded comrades in the mountains of Afghanistan.
This afternoon, the President performing what probably is one of his most solemn duties as president and commander-in-chief, presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to the Massachusetts hero.
Sgt. 1st Class Monti thus becomes the first hero awarded our nation’s highest honor under the Obama administration, and only the sixth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor after eight years of combat in Afghanistan and more than six years of combat in Iraq.
In a packed, ornate East Room of the White House, Paul and Janet Monti accepted the nation’s highest honor for valor on behalf of their son Jared, an Army sergeant who would have turned 34 on Sunday.
Obama presented the framed medal to Paul Monti, shook his hand, then kissed Janet Monti’s cheek.
Obama said the ceremony was a celebration of the family and friends who molded Monti into the man who would willingly give up his life for another.
His actions “were the culmination of a life of courage and commitment,” the president said, and represented his “deep and abiding love for his fellow soldiers.”
Obama described Monti’s heroism on June 21, 2006, when he “did what he was trained to do” — but also did what no amount of training can prepare one for — facing enemy fire three times before he was struck down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
“Jared Monti saw the danger before him and went out to meet it,” the president said.
Saying that he had been told that Monti was “a very humble guy,” Obama named the three others who died in the battle.
Obama called Monti literally “one in a million,” noting that over the 150 years that the medal has been awarded for conspicuous gallantry, tens of millions Americans have served in uniform, but fewer than 3,500 have received the honor.
Among the 120 attendees were Senator John F. Kerry and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, top Pentagon officials, members of Monti’s 10th Mountain Division, and other Medal of Honor recipients.
Senator Kerry entered a statement of tribute into the Congressional Record, excerpts of which are below:
Sergeant Monti joins an elite group of Americans who have received the Medal of Honor. Just 3,447 before him – all soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen of uncommon courage, valor and gallantry – have been so honored. He is the sixth to be awarded the Medal of Honor for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Millions of Americans have defended our nation’s liberty for more than two centuries. But these 3, 447 – and now Sergeant Monti – risked their lives above and beyond the call of duty. And 617, like Sergeant Monti, gave their lives for the cause of America’s freedom.
Our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen perform acts of bravery every day. But some of those acts, like Sergeant Monti’s on June 26, 2006, exceed even our country’s highest expectations.
Sergeant Monti was leading a patrol of 16 troops on a mountain range in Afghanistan when attacked by a Taliban force of more than 50 fighters. Sergeant Monti not only prevented the Taliban force from overrunning his unit but also positioned his forces to disrupt a flanking attempt.
The Sergeant managed to call in air support which eventually forced the enemy to retreat and prevented the patrol from being overrun against overwhelming odds.
When he realized one of his fellow Marines was missing, he went searching for him. He found him lying wounded and exposed in the open ground. Sergeant Monti exposed himself to heavy enemy fire three times trying to rescue the wounded soldier. On the third attempt, the Sergeant was mortally wounded.
Sergeant Monti’s ability to act quickly and decisively in the midst of enemy fire is testimony to his leadership, without which his patrol’s casualty rate that day would have been substantially higher.
Sergeant Monti was an extraordinary American and an extraordinary Marine, one of extraordinary gallantry. By his actions, he has taken his rightful place in the revered company of our country’s most selfless heroes.
According to army.mil:
The nature of our most recent conflicts is different than those past. Service members distinguish themselves in different ways, and Sgt. 1st Class Monti distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty-the reason he is the recipient of the Medal of Honor. As long as America is the home of the brave, there will be nominees for the Medal of Honor. As we move into our eighth year of persistent conflict, we’re reminded that our men and women continue to serve honorably, selflessly and courageously.
To view a “first-of-its-kind” multimedia website created by the U.S. Army for Sgt. Monti, please click here.
Image: Courtesy U.S. Army