Unsung Glory; Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, U.S. Army

Jared Monti, a native of Raynham Massachusetts,  was born September 20, 1975. He grew up with dreams of being a pilot, but persistent headaches kept him on the ground, and instead he joined the National Guard as a junior in high school, attending drills during the summer while his friends frolicked at the beach. Although an excellent athlete; he was a championship wrestler and triathlete, he was cut from basketball try outs three time before finally making the varsity team where he outscored the teams top, veteran players. It was indicative of the perseverance that would mark his life, and death.

Monti joined the Army in March of 1993 at the age of 18 and became a Forward Observer, tasked with calling in artillery and Close Air Support for the infantry. In 2006 he was on his second tour in Afghanistan with Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, when his Fire Support Team was attached to a patrol from Charlie Troop that was to set up an over-watch position in the Gowardesh region of the turbulent Nuristan Province on Pakistan’s border. His patrol would establish an observation post on a ridge line looking over a valley 2,600 feet below where a major clearing sweep was to take place. From the heights they would coordinate supporting fire for the grunts in the valley below. Setting out on June 18th, the 16 man patrol began a brutal three day climb into the rugged, unnavigated mountains. In addition to S/Sgt. Monti’s FiST Team there was a two man sniper element led by Staff Sergeant Chris Cunningham. The supporting infantry were led by Sgt. Patrick Lybert.

On June 21st they settled into positions atop the ridge line, their food and water exhausted. They were scheduled to receive a resupply by helicopter that would be masked by the inbound choppers of the operation in the valley below. The major push however was delayed, meaning that the resupply bird coming in alone compromised their position. As the patrol moved to gather the resupply drop, Specialist Noble saw a man below them watching with military style binoculars. The enemy surely knew their position now, and the patrol settled in to a defensive posture, waiting for the coming onslaught.

At 1845  they heard a shuffle of feet in the brush on the ridge line to their north. It was then that the entire tree line lit up with small arms and RPG fire. An enemy force of approximately 60 fighters, outnumbering the Americans 4 to 1, attacked from dense trees above the ridge to their north with a ferocity so intense that some of the soldiers weapons were shot from their hands. PFC Derek James dove behind a small rock, scrambling to make his body fit behind its seemingly inadequate mass. An RPG exploded nearby, blowing a chunk from his arm. Then a bullet hit his back.

“I remember thinking ‘Shit, I am going to die,’ ” PFC James said. “We are all going to die.”

Bleeding profusely from his wounds James scrambled to the protection of the main position, a larger rock outcropping 30 yards to the south, where a medic began to patch him up.

The incoming fire was so intense that Staff Sgt. Chris Grzceki couldn’t reach his rifle, just a few feet away. Another soldiers weapon was shot from his hand. Sgt. Lybert popped his head over the rocks, looking to spot the enemies movement and to return fire. He fell backwards, shot through the head, killed instantly.

Meanwhile Staff Sergeant Monti was returning fire while he calmly called in danger close fire support and CAS missions. He simultaneously directed the return fire of his men, juggling the radio and fire fight with a determined professionalism. The enemy was so close to the patrols perimeter the troopers could plainly hear them speaking.

The enemy attempted to flank the patrol to the east. S/Sgt. Monti dropped his radio long enough to drive them off with grenade and rifle fire. While he was driving off this thrust, his men were repulsing a second flank attack to the north west, while the enemy’s main thrust continued pouring down the ridge from the north. The patrol was hard pressed and in serious danger of being overrun. It was then during the maelstrom of enemy fire that they realized that in the confusion of the initial contact, PFC. Brian J. Bradbury had been wounded and was still lying in the fire swept tree line, 30 yards to the north, between the patrol and the advancing enemy. The men could hear him now, calling for help, his life slowly slipping away.

S/Sgt. Cunningham volunteered to rescue him, but S/Sgt. Monti, radio call sign ‘Chaos 35’, said “That’s my guy. I’m going to get him.” Tossing the radio to S/Sgt. Grzecki he told him “Hey, you’re Chaos 35 now.” and dashed from the protective cover of the rocks.

The enemy saw S/Sgt.Monti and intensified their already withering fire. He made it to within 3 feet of the grievously wounded Bradbury when the enemy fire forced him to cover behind a low wall. He tried a second time, and was again forced backed. While the patrol coordinated covering fire for him he made a third attempt, Bradbury a mere feet away. He was stopped by an RPG round, blown back and away from the man he was sacrificing all to try and save. Sgt. Grzecki said that as S/Sgt. Monti lay dying, he made his peace and thought of his family. His last words were “I’ve made my peace with God. Tell my family that I love them.”

It was then that the air support mission he had called for roared in. 500 and 2000 pound bombs dropped so close that they rattled the teeth of the beleaguered American patrol. Massive trees were toppled like so much kindling. Shrapnel flew over the soldiers’ heads. And the enemies back was broken. They retreated from the ridge line, leaving behind at least 22 dead.

As the intensity of the fight they had just survived began to sink in, the thump of a medevac helicopters blades chopped the air in the darkness overhead. A jungle penetrator was dropped through the trees to the men below and Staff Sgt. Heathe Craig, a medic with the 159th Air Ambulance Medical Company was lowered down to them.

“I remember hearing the flight medic they dropped down say ‘Hey, don’t worry. I am gonna get you guys out of here,’ ” said Specialist Sean Smith. “That was nice. It made me feel better. At this point it began to sink in that it was fucked up, the whole situation.”

S/Sgt. Craig took PFC James up to the hovering bird first, and then came back with extra litter straps for PFC Bradbury. He was too severely wounded to hold on by himself so S/Sgt. Craig rode up the hoist with him into the darkness and the sanctuary of the unseen helicopter above them. The men of the patrol felt a surge of relief. They had survived and their wounded had been evacuated. Then they heard a sickening thump. More cries of “Medic” tore through the night air.

The steel cable pulling PFC Bradbury and S/Sgt. Craig to safety had snapped. Both men were killed by the fall.

The patrol collected the dead, S/Sgt. Monti, Sgt. Lybert, PFC Bradbury, and S/Sgt. Craig, and took turns watching over them while the rest scanned the valley and ridge line with night vision devices, watching for a renewed enemy assault . A twigs snapping, an insect landing on exposed skin, a flirting shadow, all brought down a wall of steel called forth by the jittery survivors. A long, cold, stressful night finally passed to reveal a shell shattered moonscape before them.

“It looked like a nuke had hit,” Spec. Smith said. “All the trees were cut in half. Branches were all over.”

A helicopter retrieved the dead, but the exhausted survivors would have to hike out on foot.

Staff Sergeant Jared Monti was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class.

And on Thursday September 17th, three days shy of what would have been his 34th birthday, President Obama presented his family with a posthumous Medal of Honor for Sergeant First Class Monti’s selfless act on that barren mountain ridge line of Afghanistan. His was the sixth Medal of Honor to be awarded during The Long War, and the second for action in Afghanistan.

SFC Monti was remembered by his family and friends as a man who always gave of himself. A man who rarely came home for Christmas because he had given his leave to a married soldier so he could be with his children. A man who once enraged his roommate when he gave away a brand new dining room set to a soldier whose children were eating while seated on the floor. In short, he was remembered as a man who lived the same as he died, sacrificing for others.

SFC Jared Monti MoH

9 comments

  1. 1
    rabidfox says:

    It’s people like this man that make this country great. Thank you SFC Monti, rest in peace.

  2. 2
    LC Guy S says:

    Why … why, is it always the best, brightest, the most selfless, which are taken from us when they are so young? Fair Winds and Following Seas SFC Monti, as you go to report in to the final Command. RIP.

  3. 3

    Was this the man for whom Mee’Shelle le Sasquatch wore the shower curtain at the ceremony?

  4. 4

    The pain I feel when I read about one of these heroes dying is indescribable, I grieve for every one of them.

    One more died this week, wounded Navy Seal Ryan Job. He was blinded by a snipers bullet, recuperated and got active in Camp Patriot, and went on to climb Mt. Rainier although he was almost totally blind.

    He died during reconstructive surgery on his damaged eye socket.

    Heavenly Father,

    welcome these noble heroes into your kingdom with open arms.
    comfort their families in their time of loss,
    and grant them peace and resolution.
    Protect the brothers and sisters in arms
    that they leave behind, and if it is your will
    please bring them home safe and victorious.

    thy will be done
    Amen

  5. 5

    In regards to LC Sir Intellectual Conservative 5th Columnist’s comment @ #3:

    Yes, LC Sir I.C., it is.

  6. 6

    May Obambi and his podmate be forced to endure the horrors of the very world they want to make. For time .. and all eternity.

  7. 7
    Princess Natasha, Decadent Delicious Deviant says:

    The ass-droppings we have sitting in the White House right now are not worthy of scraping mud off this man’s boots. RIP, SFC Monti. I sure as hell regret I never met you in person. But, there are NCOs just like you who make my job easier and this mission possible. THANK YOU.

  8. 8
    LC LittleRott84 says:

    Damn, I would kill to have NCOs like him, and I would be thrilled if I could be half the one he was.

  9. 9
    LC Xystus says:

    Unfortunately…not only the guy died, then so did the guy he was trying to save–& someone else–because a bloody cable broke. That just ruins it.

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