15 April 2008

Medal of Honor awarded for Iraq

ZUI this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Tears glistening on his face, President Bush posthumously presented the Medal of Honor on Tuesday [8 April] to a Navy SEAL from Garden Grove who saved the lives of American snipers in Iraq by throwing his body on top of an insurgent's grenade.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, 25, died during a firefight on Sept. 29, 2006, in an Al Qaeda-controlled section of Ramadi. During a solemn ceremony in the White House East Room, his parents, George and Sally, accepted the nation's highest award for bravery on his behalf.

The presentation, which took place as Army Gen. David H. Petraeus offered an Iraq update on Capitol Hill, was a reminder of the very human cost of a war in which more than 4,000 American servicemen and -women have died since 2003.

Monsoor is the first sailor and first Californian to receive the Medal of Honor as a result of combat in Iraq.

"We will not let his life go in vain," the president said, noting that the area where Monsoor was killed had been transformed into one of the safest places in the war-torn country.

ZUI also Monsoor's biography at the US Navy website:
Michael enlisted in the U.S. Navy March 21, 2001, and attended Basic Training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill. Upon graduation from basic training, he attended Quartermaster “A” School, and then transferred to Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy for a short period of time.

Petty Officer Monsoor entered Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif., and subsequently graduated with Class 250 on Sept. 2, 2004 as one of the top performers in his class. After BUD/S, he completed advanced SEAL training courses including parachute training at Basic Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga., cold weather combat training in Kodiak, Alaska, and six months of SEAL Qualification Training in Coronado, graduating in March 2005. The following month, his rating changed from Quartermaster to Master-at-Arms, and he was assigned to SEAL Team 3 Delta Platoon. He deployed with his platoon to Iraq in April 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was assigned to Task Unit Bravo in Ar Ramadi.

From April to Sept. 29, 2006, Mike served as a heavy weapons machine gunner in Delta Platoon, SEAL Team 3. During combat patrols he walked behind the platoon point man with his Mk 48 machinegun so that he could protect his platoon from a frontal enemy attack. Mike was also a SEAL communicator. On 15 operations, he carried a rucksack full of communications equipment in addition to his machinegun and full ammunition load-out. Collectively it weighed more than 100 pounds. He bore the weight without a single complaint, even in the midst of the 130 degree Western Iraqi summer.

Mike and his platoon operated in a highly contested part of Ramadi city called the Ma’laab district. During their deployment, Mike and his fellow SEALS came under enemy attack on 75 percent of their missions. On May 9, 2006 Mike rescued a SEAL who was shot in the leg. He ran out into the street with another SEAL, shot cover fire and dragged his comrade to safety while enemy bullets kicked up the concrete at their feet. For this brave action, he earned a Silver Star.


Petty Officer Monsoor was subsequently awarded the Bronze Star as the Task Unit Ramadi, Iraq Combat Advisor from April to September 2006. His leadership, guidance and decisive actions during 11 different combat operations saved the lives of his teammates, other Coalition Forces and Iraqi Army soldiers.

******* *** *******


Master at Arms Second Class (SEAL), US Navy; Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula

Born: 5 April 1981, Long Beach, California
Died: 29 September 2006, Ar Ramadi, Iraq

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent-held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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