Political News

Obama honors former Bragg soldier killed in battle

Posted September 17, 2009 2:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2009 3:25 p.m. EDT

— Presenting his first Medal of Honor, President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the sacrifice of a soldier who braved enemy fire while attempting to save a comrade during the war in Afghanistan.

Obama honored Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti of Raynham, Mass., during an East Room ceremony attended by his parents – Janet Monti, of Winterville, N.C., and John Monti, of Raynham, Mass.

Obama said Monti personified the values of duty, honor, sacrifice and heroism. Americans often toss around such words too freely, the president said.

"Do we really grasp the meanings of these values?" he asked.

Monti, who once served at Fort Bragg, died during a firefight with the Taliban in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, in June 2006. The 30-year-old Monti showed "conspicuous gallantry," the White House declared when announcing he would win the Medal of Honor for his role in a fight along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Monti's 16-man patrol had been scouting ahead of a larger offensive against the Taliban. A helicopter deployed to resupply the patrol blew their cover, Taliban fighters converged, and Monti called for backup.

One of his men, Pvt. Brian Bradbury, was shot during the encounter. Monti, who enlisted at age 17, twice left cover and ran into the open under intense enemy fire to retrieve the wounded soldier.

Monti "did something no amount of training can instill," Obama said. He quoted Monti as saying, "He is my soldier. I am going to get him."

On Monti's third attempt, he was struck by a grenade and died on the field.

Obama said the sacrifice of Monti and other brave members of the military should inspire all Americans to aspire to be better citizens.

Monti was the sixth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor since Sept. 11, 2001.

Monti served with the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry).

According to the U.S. Army's Medal of Honor Web site, Monti, a native of Raynham, Mass., enlisted as a high school junior in 1993. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Kosovo. He was also stationed in the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea.

Monti previously was awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, five Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals and three National Defense Service Medals.

The Medals of Honor awarded by Congress are the highest award for military valor, typically reserved for members of the military who risk their lives with gallantry beyond the call of duty.