Michael Anthony Monsoor dove on top of the explosive, exchanging his own life for those of his comrades

Michael Anthony Monsoor dove on top of the explosive, exchanging his own life for those of his comrades
Michael Anthony Monsoor dove on top of the explosive, exchanging his own life for those of his comrades, Our Medal of Honor series, which honors our Medal of Honor recipients, continues with a biography about Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor.

Monsoor, who also served as a Master-at-Arms and Navy SEAL, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on April 8, 2008 for his courageous actions in Iraq on Sept. 29, 2006. He was the third recipient for the award for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Early Life

Monsoor was born April 5, 1981 in Long Beach, Calif. to George and Sally Monsoor. He grew up in nearby Garden Grove, Calif. with his older brother James, older sister Sara and younger brother Joseph. His father and brother James served in the Marine Corps.

Monsoor attended Dr. Walter C. Ralston Intermediate School and Garden Grove High School where he played tight end on the football team. He graduated high school in 1999. Monsoor enjoyed snowboarding, body-boarding and spearfishing. He also liked to ride his motorcycle and drive his Corvette.

Military Service

Monsoor enlisted in the Navy on March 21, 2001, and went to basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill. After graduation he attended Quartermaster “A” School. He was then stationed at Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy.

In 2004, Monsoor entered SEAL training in Coronado, Calif. for the second time —  a broken heel had forced him to drop out on his initial attempt — and graduated with Class 250 on Sept. 2. Afterwards, he completed advanced SEAL training courses at Fort Benning, Ga., cold weather combat training in Alaska and six months of SEAL Qualification Training in Coronado. In April 2005, he was assigned to SEAL Team 3 Delta Platoon. He deployed with his platoon to Iraq in April 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While in Iraq, Monsoor and his SEAL platoon performed patrols in a very dangerous part of Ramadi called the Ma’laab district. His platoon came under attack on about 75 percent of their missions. Once, Monsoor rescued a SEAL who was shot in the leg. He ran out into the street with another SEAL as they were being shot at and dragged his comrade to safety. That courageous action earned him the Silver Star.

Medal of Honor Action

On Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor’s platoon was taking part in Operation Kentucky Jumper, a combined Coalition battalion clearance and isolation operation in southern Ar Ramadi. He served as automatic weapons gunner in a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element positioned on a residential rooftop in a violent sector and historical stronghold for insurgents. His job was to protect the snipers.

That morning, the team observed four insurgents prepare for follow-on attacks. His team engaged them, wounding one and killing another. After the engagement, the local residents blocked off the area with rocks to keep civilians away and to warn the insurgents about the coalition presence. A nearby mosque also called for insurgents to the area to fight the Coalition Forces.

In the afternoon, insurgents attacked his team’s position from a moving vehicle. The SEALs remained and shot back. Shortly thereafter, an enemy fighter shot a rocket-propelled grenade at his building. Aware that the enemy would continue their attack, the SEALs remained on the rooftop to continue their mission of guarding the west flank of the Coalition’s main effort.

The officer in charge repositioned Monsoor with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction the enemy was most likely to approach from. He was located closest to the exit out of the sniper’s nest. While surveying through a tactical periscope for enemy activity, an enemy fighter threw a grenade onto the roof. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the floor. He immediately jumped to his feet and yelled “grenade” to warn his fellow SEALs of imminent danger. They didn’t have time, however, to evacuate the sniper nest and escape harm.

Without any hesitation and sacrificing his own life, Monsoor threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying nearby. The grenade exploded as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him. His comrades were also wounded by the blast, but his heroic action saved their lives.

Monsoor’s actions demonstrated his selfless intentions. He had the only clear escape from the blast. Monsoor could have easily escaped and remained unharmed if he had so chosen to do so, but instead he chose to save his fellow SEALs by sacrificing of his own life.