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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday posthumously recognized Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti with the Medal of Honor, lauding the fallen soldier as a compassionate and dedicated leader.
This is only the second time the medal, the nation’s highest military honor, has been awarded for actions in Afghanistan. Monti was one of four servicemembers killed June 21, 2006, during a mountainside ambush in the northeastern province of Nuristan.
On Thursday, Obama presented Monti’s parents, Paul and Janet Monti, with his Medal of Honor in front of a crowd that included some of the men he served alongside in Afghanistan.
“The actions we honor today were not a passing moment of courage,” Obama said at the ceremony. “They were the culmination of a life of character and commitment.”
Monti’s 16-man patrol from the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team was preparing for a larger assault in the area when it came under attack just before dusk – “fire so intense that weapons were shot out of their hands,” Obama said.
When a fellow soldier fell wounded in the line of fire, Monti tried unsuccessfully twice to reach him and on the third try was mortally wounded by gunfire and a rocket-propelled grenade.
Members of Monti’s unit said in his last moments, he spoke to them: “I’ve made my peace with God. Tell my family that I love them.”
His commendation from the Army said his courageous actions “inspired the patrol to fight off the larger enemy force.” Just moments after his death, air support he had previously requested arrived and drove back the attackers, saving the remaining soldiers.
Friends and family described the 30-year-old Massachusetts native as a caring and generous man, someone who loved visiting home but frequently gave away holiday leave time to fellow soldiers so they could spend more time with their families.
“Compassion. Perseverance. Strength. A love for his fellow soldiers. These are the values that defined Jared Monti’s life, and the values he displayed in the actions we recognize today,” Obama said.
Monti is the 3,448th servicemember to earn the Medal of Honor. Four men have been recognized with the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq, all of them posthumously.
The other Afghanistan Medal of Honor, presented two years ago to the family of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, was also a posthumous award.