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Michael Anthony Monsoor

U.S. Navy / Medal of Honor

After grenade hit, Navy SEAL could have jumped to safety
but saved comrades instead

When Petty Officer Michael Monsoor arrived in Ramadi in April, 2006, the city was the most dangerous in Iraq for U.S. forces.

He and his teammates on SEAL Team 3 were attacked on 75 percent of their patrols through the city as they trained Iraqi soldiers. Monsoor, a machine gunner, had fired thousands of rounds during three dozen gun battles with insurgents.

On May 9, 2006, a SEAL near Monsoor was shot in the leg during a patrol and lay bleeding in the street. Monsoor ran to him as bullets kicked up dirt around him and dragged the wounded man to safety, an action for which he received the Silver Star. He also earned a Bronze Star with Valor for actions during 11 firefights with insurgents.

In e-mails home, he never told his family how much danger he faced each day.

On Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor, three other SEALs and eight Iraqi soldiers climbed onto a rooftop from which they could watch over soldiers pushing through a dangerous neighborhood. The SEAL snipers fired on several men with AK-47s, killing one and wounding another.

Over loudspeakers at a nearby mosque, insurgents were then called to attack. They fired at the rooftop with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

A grenade tossed onto the rooftop smacked Monsoor in the chest and dropped him to the ground. Monsoor called out to the two SEALs nearby, but they had no time to move. Standing near the exit, Monsoor could have dived to safety.

Instead, he collapsed onto the grenade. The two teammates near him were injured, but he absorbed most of the blast.

“He never took his eye off the grenade. His only movement was down toward it,” a SEAL who was on the roof that day said later in an interview with the Associated Press.

“He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs’ lives, and we owe him.”

Brian Mockenhaupt is a Detroit-based writer who is an Alicia Patterson fellow reporting on the physical and psychological effects of war. He served as a noncommissioned officer with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division from 2002 to 2005, spending 18 months in Iraq.

Read about the other Medal of Honor recipients


Brian Mockenhaupt is a Detroit-based writer who is an Alicia Patterson fellow reporting on the physical and psychological effects of war. He served as a noncommissioned officer with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division from 2002 to 2005, spending 18 months in Iraq.

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Monsoor-Ramadi

Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor, left, is shown on patrol in Iraq in 2006. The Medal of Honor recipient died when he threw himself on a grenade to save fellow SEALs. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)

  • Monsoor-Ramadi
  • Monsoor-cold-weather-training
 
 

Michael Anthony Monsoor

U.S. Navy / Medal of Honor

Died Sept. 29, 2006

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anthony Monsoor was born April 5, 1981, in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in Garden Grove, Calif. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 21, 2001. He deployed to Iraq in April 2006 with Delta Platoon, SEAL Team 3, and was killed Sept. 29, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq.

WHAT HE DID
Refused to dive to safety and instead collapsed on a hand grenade that had landed near him and two other Navy SEALS on a rooftop in Iraq, killing him but saving the others' lives.


Iraq / Ramadi

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