President Bush on Tuesday awarded the nation’s highest military tribute to a Navy SEAL who was killed when he threw himself on a grenade in Iraq to save his comrades.
The president, blinking back tears, recognized the bravery of Michael A. Monsoor, who was part of a sniper team in Ramadi when he died on Sept. 29, 2006. Bush presented the medal to Monsoor’s parents, Sally and George Monsoor, before about 250 guests, including some of his fellow soldiers, in an East Room ceremony.
The emotional ceremony came as the top U.S. general and diplomat in Iraq opened two days of congressional testimony on the status of the war, now in its sixth year. Monsoor was the third Medal of Honor winner from the Iraq war.
“Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism on Sept. 29, 2006,” press secretary Dana Perino told reporters during a briefing aboard Air Force One as Bush headed to Europe for a NATO summit.
Monsoor was part of a sniper security team in Ramadi with three other SEALs and eight Iraqi soldiers, according to a Navy account. An insurgent fighter threw the grenade, which struck Monsoor in the chest before falling in front of him.
Monsoor then threw himself on the grenade, according to a SEAL who spoke to The Associated Press in 2006 on condition of anonymity because his work requires his identity to remain secret.
“He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it,” said a 28-year-old lieutenant, who suffered shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. “He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs’ lives, and we owe him.”
Two SEALs next to Monsoor were injured; another who was 10 feet to 15 feet from the blast was unhurt. Monsoor, from Garden Grove, Calif., was 25 at the time.
Monsoor, a platoon machine gunner, had received the Silver Star, the third-highest award for combat valor, for his actions pulling a wounded SEAL to safety during a May 9, 2006, firefight in Ramadi.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his sacrfice in Ramadi.
Medal of Honor, Silver Star and the Bronze Star. These are top shelf medals too.
Wartime can bring out the best, and the worst in people. I say that we should praise those that give so much to their country without expecting anything in return. And damn those who strive to harm our country. Namely- those that spy for other countries, leak secrets to the press (or unauthorized people), or use the war for personal gain (i.e. that contractor that sold outdated ammunition to the military).
Protest if you like, it’s your freedom of speech. But don’t stop other people from exercising their rights. Like their right to join the military.
I’m sure some anti-war nut will point out that the medals are no substitute for their son and if we didn’t have this ‘illegal’ war then his parents would still have him. Well, there’s no guarantee that he wouldn’t have died in a car accident while driving to the store. Which did happen up here to someone that just came back from Iraq. I’d rather go down in a blaze of glory and have three medals on the mantle than to die from hitting a moose in an underlit area on the road and getting nothing but a newspaper clipping to show for it.
Petty Officer Monsoor is a hero. Say nothing that takes away the honor that he deserves.