By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Menzie, Naval Special Forces Warfare Command Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A Navy SEAL who sacrificed himself to save his teammates during combat operations in Iraq will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush the White House announced March 31.
The parents of Master-At-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor will accept the nation's highest military honor on behalf of their son during a White House ceremony April 8. The medal is awarded for 'conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty' by a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during combat against an enemy.
"I was happy to hear Mike will get the Medal of Honor," said Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Tom DeShazo, who worked closely with Monsoor during the mission. "It is not something he would ever seek out or expect; but his clear decision to sacrifice his own life to save his teammates is worthy of this honor."
Monsoor, a 25 year-old machine gunner with SEAL Team 3, was providing security at a sniper lookout post on Sept. 29, 2006 in Ramadi when a grenade hit his chest and bounced to the floor. With only a moment to act, Monsoor threw himself onto the grenade, shielding three other SEALs and three Iraqi Army soldiers from the resulting blast.
"He had a love and respect for his teammates and his platoon. His nature was to complete the most difficult tasks without question," said Lt. Cmdr. Seth Stone, who served as officer in charge of Monsoor's unit during the action. "He was a fantastic warrior."
Although Monsoor died from his injuries, the two SEALs only a few feet from him survived with significant shrapnel wounds. The other SEAL and the Iraqi soldiers were either unharmed or received only minor injuries.
"Mike Monsoor exemplified the SEAL ethos," said Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, the Commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego. "He led by example and protected his teammates to the very end. But more than that, Mike was a brother in our family. We will honor him every day by upholding the values he shared with us as SEALs."
Monsoor is the first Navy SEAL to earn the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and the second Navy SEAL to receive the award since Sept. 11, 2001. The other recipient, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, was recognized posthumously last October for his valor in combat alongside three other SEALs during a battle with Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2005. Monsoor is the fourth armed forces service member to receive the Medal of Honor since the beginning of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Monsoor will be inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon during a ceremony scheduled April 9. His name will be engraved beside the names of some 3,401 other service members who have also been awarded the nation's highest honor. Monsoor was previously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (with Combat V) and the Purple Heart.
Awarded by the President in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor was created in 1861 as a personal award of valor for members of the Navy. Soon thereafter, another version was created for the Army and ultimately the Medal of Honor was presented to more than 1,500 Civil War veterans. Later the Air Force created its own unique Medal of Honor design. Marines and Coast Guardsmen are awarded the Navy's version of the Medal of Honor.
U.S. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command and the Navy's special operations force. The SEALs take their name from the elements from which they operate – sea, air and land. Experts in special reconnaissance and direct action missions – SEALs continue to successfully execute DoD's most important warfighting missions in the global war on terrorism.
For more information about Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Micahel Monsoor visit www.navy.mil/moh/monsoor/