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Navy SEAL to receive Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq

A Navy SEAL who died smothering a grenade with his body to save other servicemembers will be given the Medal of Honor, congressional staffers said Tuesday.

The Navy Times first reported Monday that Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, who has already received the Silver Star for his service in Iraq, would also be awarded the nation’s highest military honor.

While serving with the SEALs in Ramadi on Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor grabbed a grenade tossed by insurgents and held it against his body to absorb the blast, saving other servicemembers.

The story cited an unnamed Pentagon official, who confirmed that Monsoor would be awarded the Medal of Honor after news to that effect was posted by a blogger on March 15.

Congressional staffers said they were awaiting official announcement of the award, but that they had been told that Monsoor would receive the honor.

Other officials could not say for the record whether the story was accurate.

“The final disposition of an award for Petty Officer Monsoor has not been announced,” said Navy Cmdr. Greg Geisen, a spokesman for Navy Special Warfare Command.

Geisen said any such announcement would be made either by the Defense Department or the White House.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday that he had no information on the matter, and White House spokeswoman Elizabeth Chervenak could not “confirm or deny” that Monsoor would receive the Medal of Honor.

While no official could confirm the story on the record, one privately would not dispute the story either.

So far, three servicemembers have been awarded the Medal of Honor for the war on terrorism — all posthumously.

Most recently, Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, also a SEAL, received the award in October for actions that saved a fellow SEAL’s life, and made possible the recovery of the remains of other SEALs.

Murphy called in backup during a fierce firefight with the Taliban in 2005.

Although the rescue team was shot down, Murphy’s actions allowed the one SEAL who survived the firefight to be rescued and the fallen SEALs’ remains to be recovered.

In January 2007, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham was also honored for leaping on a grenade in April 2004.

And Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith received the Medal of Honor in April 2005 for his actions two years earlier at Baghdad International Airport, where he killed up to 50 Iraqi attackers, allowing wounded U.S. troops to be evacuated.

Stripes’ Leo Shane III contributed to this report.


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