Soon after Sgt. Jared Monti died – killed by a rocket-propelled grenade while trying to save a comrade high in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2006 – his father Paul found hidden in his son’s bedroom drawer a bronze star, five Army commendation medals and four Army achievement medals.
“He never told anyone he won them. He was always very humble. He didn’t want accolades. He didn’t want medals. He wanted his work to speak for itself. When he was a kid he was never one to jump up and down and say ‘look at me,’” said Paul Monti.
Soon Monti, 30, will be awarded another medal, the highest award the U.S. military bestows for bravery – the Medal of Honor.
This time, however, his parents Paul and Janet Monti will know about it.
On Thursday, they will go to the White House and receive their son’s medal – a gold star surrounded by a wreath, suspended by a star-emblazoned blue ribbon. Prominent between the medal and the ribbon is the simple epitaph “VALOR.”
The medal presented “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity… above and beyond the call of duty,” will be the sixth awarded since Sept. 11, 2001.
Left on a narrow ridge longer than expected while on an intelligence-gathering mission, Monti and the 15 men under his command found themselves ambushed by a surprisingly large enemy force, who were so close when a firefight began that the Americans could hear the insurgents whispering around them.
The attack came so quickly that just as Monti ordered the men to set up a defensive position behind a pile of rocks, “RPGs came in fast and furiously, skipping off rocks and exploding in the trees above our heads,” said Sgt. Christopher Cunningham, a sniper who was part of the squad.
“There was so much machine gun fire that trees were being split by the bullets all around us and the branches were catching shrapnel like catchers mitts,” he said.
In the midst of the firefight, while calling for air support and firing his own weapon, Monti realized one of his soldiers was wounded in the area between the advancing Taliban fighters and his squad.
“With complete disregard for his own safety,” an Army report notes, three times Monti ran into oncoming fire in an attempt to rescue the soldier, Pvt. Brian Bradbury.
On the third attempt, he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade that blasted his legs and killed him.
“It’s normal for a guy to go out there and try to rescue someone once. But to go again is unheard of,” said Cunningham. “To go a third time – either you’re getting him or there’s no coming back. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen ever.”