By Nicholas Johnston
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, to a U.S. Army staff sergeant who died three years ago while trying to save a wounded comrade.
After his patrol was ambushed by enemy fighters, then-Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti rebuffed another soldier’s offer to attempt a rescue, saying: “No, he is my soldier. I am going to get him.”
“Jared Monti saw danger before him and he went out to meet it,” Obama said in a ceremony at the White House today before presenting the medal to Monti’s parents, Paul and Janet. “The actions we honor today were not a passing moment of courage, they were the culmination of a life of character and commitment,” he said.
Monti, who was 30 years old when he died, is the first member of the armed services to receive the Medal of Honor from Obama and the sixth person to receive the award for serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All six awards have been awarded posthumously.
More than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded since it was first authorized by Congress in 1861.
According to the official narrative of Monti’s actions, his 16-man patrol was attacked on the evening of June 21, 2006, in Nuristan Province, along the border with Pakistan, where they had been dispatched to disrupt insurgent activities.
Approximately 50 enemy fighters ambushed the patrol, firing on them with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. During the battle, Monti realized that one of his soldiers, Private 1st Class Brian J. Bradbury, had been severely injured and separated from the patrol.
“After tightening down his chin strap, Staff Sergeant Monti, without hesitation or concern for his own safety, moved out from behind the protection of the large rocks into the open, and into the face of enemy fire,” the citation says.
Monti tried twice to reach Bradbury and was driven back by enemy fire. On his third attempt he was mortally wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade, falling a few meters from Bradbury.
He tried to crawl back toward cover but was unable because of his injuries. Obama recounted Monti’s last words to his fellow soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division, some of whom attended the ceremony: “I’ve made peace with God. Tell my family that I love them.”
About 20 enemy fighters were killed in the battle. Monti, Bradbury and two other U.S. soldiers, Staff Sergeants Patrick L. Lybert and Heathe Craig, died.
Monti, a native of Raynham, Massachusetts, joined the National Guard while still in high school and went to Army basic training when he was 18.
He was awarded a Bronze Star during a prior tour of duty in Afghanistan and was posthumously promoted to Sergeant 1st Class.
Obama said Monti was a “consummate” sergeant, “caring for his soldiers and teaching his troops.”
“He called them ‘his boys’,” Obama said.