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October 18, 2023

Profiles of Valor: MA2 Michael A. Monsoor (USA)

“He made an instantaneous decision to save our teammates.”

I recently watched “Act of Valor,” a decade-old “fact-based fiction” account of an amalgam of SEAL team operator missions. I don’t normally watch such “entertainment” because the Hollywood glitterati get so much so wrong, particularly the plot coms and tactics. That, and the fact that few of the current generation of celebrities have ever served our country in any capacity, and most of them hold antagonistic views toward those who have, which is an affront to my interest.

The movie plot, some of it tolerably within the ops tempo margins of error (thanks to consultants from the Teams), was based on the premise that a cell of 16 jihadis were recruited to simultaneously attack civilian retail venue targets in the U.S. Given the latest terrorist attack on Israel and the heightened domestic alerts as a result, the plot resonated. And it was no small coincidence that the jihadis were transported to Mexico, where they would be muled across our open southern border — in the last year, more than 600 known and suspected terrorists have been captured crossing our northern and southern borders.

The annoying music and impossibly compressed plot notwithstanding, there was one scene when a SEAL dove onto a grenade to protect his Team that represented the heroic act of a legendary SEAL, Master at Arms 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor.

Mike was a native of Long Beach, California, who had three siblings and devoted parents. His father, George, was a Marine. As a child, Mike suffered from asthma but strengthened his lungs playing sports. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Navy. After completing basic, he completed Master At Arms “A” School and then Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in 2004. After six months of SEAL Qualification Training in Coronado, he was assigned to Delta Platoon, SEAL Team 3.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was deployed for the Battle of Ramadi in our effort to take back the town from al-Qa'ida, which had declared it the capital of the Islamic State in Iraq — the latter having risen from the ashes due to the abject ineptitude of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.

On September 9, 2006, Monsoor and his fellow SEALs were in a firefight with enemy snipers. He moved with other Team members to a rooftop for better tactical advantage. When an enemy combatant threw a grenade onto the roof, it bounced off Mike’s chest and landed at his feet. He yelled “Grenade!” and without hesitation, to shield the two SEAL snipers and another SEAL, Mike threw himself on the grenade and died as a result.

Lt. Cmdr. Seth Stone, Monsoor’s platoon leader in Ramadi, said: “He made an instantaneous decision to save our teammates. I immediately understood what happened, and tragically it made sense to me in keeping with the man I know, Mike Monsoor.”

Accordingly, his Medal of Honor citation notes:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for naval special warfare task group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi army sniper over-watch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

When presenting the posthumous award to his family on April 8, 2008, President George W. Bush struggled to choke back tears. But what many will recall is Mike’s funeral, where Navy SEALs from around the country paid their respects, and as they filed past Mike’s casket, each SEAL removed their gold trident badge and pounded it into the cherry wood coffin. “The procession went on nearly half an hour,” President Bush noted. “And when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten.”

MA2 Michael A. Monsoor, your example of valor — an American Patriot defending Liberty for all and your fellow warriors at great risk to yourself — is eternal.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

“Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

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