The parents of Master-At-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael Monsoor, a 25-year-old SEAL machine-gunner killed when he dove on a grenade to save his shipmates, accepted their son’s posthumous Medal of Honor on Tuesday from a tearful President Bush at the White House.
George and Sally Monsoor received their son’s framed medal in an East Room ceremony attended by hundreds of sailors, living Medal of Honor recipients and top White House and Navy officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. Bush also unveiled Monsoor’s formal citation, which was read aloud.
"The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it. Yet those who knew Michael Monsoor were not surprised when he did." Bush said.
Monsoor was one of about 32s SEALs fighting with U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Iraqi troops to take the insurgent-controlled city of Ramadi, said Dick Couch, author of “The Sheriff of Ramadi,” a forthcoming book about the battle that features Monsoor’s picture on its cover. Rather than make a traditional invasion sweep through the dangerous capital of Anbar province, as U.S. forces had done in the battle of Fallujah, regular and special forces troops advanced piecemeal through neighborhoods in the city, cleared out enemies and then held the territory in an “ink-blot strategy,” Couch said.
Monsoor and his SEAL teammates provided reconnaissance and over-watch for the other troops as they fought in the city, and as such often bore the brunt of intense enemy attacks, Couch said. The day he died, Monsoor was stationed with his machine gun on a rooftop between two SEAL snipers providing cover for an Army unit working in a rail yard. The two men were lying prone, aiming their rifles through holes blasted in the wall, when a grenade sailed onto the rooftop and hit Monsoor in the chest. According to the official Navy biography, there was no way either of the teammates could have escaped, and even after Monsoor dove on the grenade, both SEALs suffered shrapnel wounds.
But they survived, Bush said, because Monsoor made a conscious decision to sacrifice his life for them.
“He had a clear chance to escape, but in his mind, it was not a choice at all,” Bush said.
Monsoor is the first SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq; another special operator, Lt. Michael Murphy, was posthumously given the award last year after he was killed in Afghanistan making a last radio call to save his four-man squad after an ambush. Monsoor is the fourth service member to receive the Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the 747th sailor to receive the award and the 3,447th person overall.
Monsoor’s other decorations included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with combat “V” and the Purple Heart.
Video memorial for MA2 Monsoor: http://youtube.com/watch?v=CfK2BQCIIes
What a great American.
"We do not approve of the rebel who is driven by his desires and passions to infringements upon law and order; we find all the more worthy of our reverence the memory of those who tragically sacrificed themselves for the greater whole."
- Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi)
PO Monsoor gave his life so that his teammates survived; not only his teammtes, but the soldiers on the ground for whom PO Monsoor's team was providing cover fire. All Americans should feel the loss of PO Monsoor as heavily as the President, but his burden is especially heartfelt, I believe, as he was the one who made the hard but necessary call to commit troops to this combat action.