SEAL awarded post humas Medal of Honor

AP/Sand Diego Union-Tribune:

An elite Navy SEAL who threw himself on top of a grenade in Iraq to save his comrades will be posthumously awarded the nation's highest military tribute, a White House spokeswoman said Monday.

The Medal of Honor will be awarded to Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor. His family will receive the medal during a White House ceremony April 8.

Monsoor is the fifth person to receive the honor since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“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 President 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.

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SEALs have some of the toughest training in the military (75 percent drop out before finishing the training) and obviously they have great courage. Congratulations to Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor's family. There are only 2300 currently serving, but the Navy wants to increase the number to 2800. If you do the math, that means they need another 2000 applicants.

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