Navy SEAL Who Sacrificed His Life Receives Medal of Honor

Fidelis Iyebote | Correspondent | Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Navy SEAL Who Sacrificed His Life Receives Medal of Honor

( - Michael Anthony Monsoor, the petty officer of the U.S. Navy's Special Operations Command (SEAL), who saved the lives of his three SEAL colleagues and three Iraqi soldiers on Sept. 29, 2006, but died from a grenade blast in Ramada, Iraq, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday at the White House.

Blogger Cassy Fiano condoled Monsoor's family with words of encouragement and challenge. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. May we be worthy of your son's sacrifice," he said.

The Medal of Honor, the highest honor for military valor, is awarded for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty" by a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during combat against an enemy.

President Bush praised Monsoor for his valor and selfless service to the nation. "Michael had two options," said the president, "save his life or those who were with him, but he chose to lay down his life for them."

Monsoor had suffered asthma at a young age, but braved the limitations of the disease to succeed in his studies and other endeavors. He brought the same courage and resilience into every area of his life, including his military service.

The president said that Monsoor was a hero who would not be forgotten. "Time will not diminish his legacy," the president said, and "America owes him a debt that we cannot pay."

Monsoor was killed at age 25. He was a machine-gunner with the Navy's SEAL Team 3, which provided security at a sniper look-out post in Ramadi. As he moved to ward off a barrage of enemy attack, a grenade hit his chest. Then, it bounced off to the floor.

In an extraordinary act of courage, Monsoor shielded three of his U.S colleagues and three other Iraqi soldiers from the imminent blast by throwing himself onto the grenade. The resultant blast killed him.

Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, said, "Mike Monsoor exemplified the SEAL ethos." Kernan praised Monsoor for leading by example and for protecting his teammates to the end. "We will honor him every day by upholding the values he shared with us as SEALS," he said.

During the same deployment at which he died, Monsoor received the Silver Star award for rescuing a wounded naval combatant by maneuvering his way to a street under fire to drag his comrade to safety.

Monsoor's parents, George and Sally Monsoor, received the award on behalf of their deceased son. The ceremony was also attended by Michael Monsoor's siblings Sarah, James and Joseph.

Born into a pious Catholic family on April 5, 1981 at Long Beach, Calif., Michael Monsoor was the third in a family of four. He graduated from Garden Grove High School where he was an outstanding sportsman. He enlisted in the Navy on March 21, 2001. After graduation from six months of SEAL qualification training in 2005, he was deployed to Iraq in 2006 where he served until his death.

Monsoor is the first Navy SEAL combatant to earn the Medal of Honor for gallantry in Iraq and the fifth in the entire armed forces to receive the honor since the Iraqi campaign began.

The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, and it is awarded by the president in the name of Congress at a ceremony attended by senior military personnel, members of Congress and other leaders.

Monsoor will also be inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon later this month.

Tom DeShazo, a special warfare operator 1st class in the Navy's SEAL, who had worked closely with Monsoor until his death, said of his fallen colleague, "his [Monsoor's] decision to sacrifice his own life to save his teammates is worthy of the Medal of Honor award."

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