Today the President awarded Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in the East Room of the White House.
Sergeant First Class Monti received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions in combat in Afghanistan, which the President recounted
alongside his parents Paul and Janet Monti:
That's when Jared Monti did what he was trained to do. With the enemy advancing -- so close they could hear their voices -- he got on his radio and started calling in artillery. When the enemy tried to flank them, he grabbed a gun and drove them back. And when they came back again, he tossed a grenade and drove them back again. And when these American soldiers saw one of their own -- wounded, lying in the open, some 20 yards away, exposed to the approaching enemy -- Jared Monti did something no amount of training can instill. His patrol leader said he'd go, but Jared said, "No, he is my soldier, I'm going to get him."
It was written long ago that "the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet, notwithstanding, go out to meet it." Jared Monti saw the danger before him. And he went out to meet it.
He handed off his radio. He tightened his chin strap. And with his men providing cover, Jared rose and started to run. Into all those incoming bullets. Into all those rockets. Upon seeing Jared, the enemy in the woods unleashed a firestorm. He moved low and fast, yard after yard, then dove behind a stone wall.
A moment later, he rose again. And again they fired everything they had at him, forcing him back. Faced with overwhelming enemy fire, Jared could have stayed where he was, behind that wall. But that was not the kind of soldier Jared Monti was. He embodied that creed all soldiers strive to meet: "I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade." And so, for a third time, he rose. For a third time, he ran toward his fallen comrade. Said his patrol leader, it "was the bravest thing I had ever seen a soldier do."
They say it was a rocket-propelled grenade; that Jared made it within a few yards of his wounded soldier. They say that his final words, there on that ridge far from home, were of his faith and his family: "I've made peace with God. Tell my family that I love them."
And then, as the artillery that Jared had called in came down, the enemy fire slowed, then stopped. The patrol had defeated the attack. They had held on -- but not without a price. By the end of the night, Jared and three others, including the soldier he died trying to save, had given their lives.
I'm told that Jared was a very humble guy; that he would have been uncomfortable with all this attention; that he'd say he was just doing his job; and that he'd want to share this moment with others who were there that day. And so, as Jared would have wanted, we also pay tribute to those who fell alongside him: Staff Sergeant Patrick Lybert. Private First Class Brian Bradbury. Staff Sergeant Heathe Craig.
And we honor all the soldiers he loved and who loved him back -- among them noncommissioned officers who remind us why the Army has designated this "The Year of the NCO" in honor of all those sergeants who are the backbone of America's Army. They are Jared's friends and fellow soldiers watching this ceremony today in Afghanistan. They are the soldiers who this morning held their own ceremony on an Afghan mountain at the post that now bears his name -- Combat Outpost Monti. And they are his "boys" -- surviving members of Jared's patrol, from the 10th Mountain Division -- who are here with us today. And I would ask them all to please stand. (Applause.)
Like Jared, these soldiers know the meaning of duty, and of honor, of country. Like Jared, they remind us all that the price of freedom is great. And by their deeds they challenge every American to ask this question: What we can do to be better citizens? What can we do to be worthy of such service and such sacrifice?
Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti. In his proud hometown of Raynham, his name graces streets and scholarships. Across a grateful nation, it graces parks and military posts. From this day forward, it will grace the memorials to our Medal of Honor heroes. And this week, when Jared Monti would have celebrated his 34th birthday, we know that his name and legacy will live forever, and shine brightest, in the hearts of his family and friends who will love him always.
May God bless Jared Monti, and may He comfort the entire Monti family. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
(President Barack Obama stands with Paul and Janet Monti as he posthumously awards their son, Army Sgt. 1st. Class Jared C. Monti from Raynham, Mass., the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)