The final act of courage by Raynham’s Army Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti is retold through a Department of Defense report. His heroism will be honored at the White House on Sept. 17 by President Barack Obama, who will present his parents, Paul and Janet, with the Medal of Honor, the highest military award, on Monti’s behalf.
On Sept. 17, President Barack Obama will present Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti's parents, Paul and Janet, with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. Only five Medals of Honor have been bestowed, all posthumously, for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The final act of courage by the Raynham man is retold through a Department of Defense report and interviews with his family:
Evening fell, but the desert sun had cooked the earth Army Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti traipsed with his soldiers and their 70-pound packs.
Even at dusk, the air still boiled in the northeastern mountains of Afghanistan and sweat streamed down Monti’s muscular 5-foot-5 frame.
They were out of water. They radioed for more.
North of where he stood on the plateau, Monti, 30, could see the enemy compound he and the 15 other soldiers in his group were sent to scout out June 21, 2006.
In his 12-year military career, the Raynham soldier had been lauded by superiors in his military records for his “endless potential” and “uncompromising courage.”
That day would be no different, except that Monti’s final act of bravery — running into a combat zone to save a wounded comrade — would end with the ultimate sacrifice.
Monti, a member of the elite 10th Mountain Division, was on his second tour in Afghanistan and that day was part of an advance scouting group — sent ahead of a larger force pushing into a valley in the Nuristan province, his father said.
More troops were coming behind them to rid the valley of Taliban insurgents.
Staff Sgt. Patrick L. Lybert, 28, of Wisconsin, finished filling his water bottle and was lying down behind a stone wall with another soldier, according to the military report.
Monti slid down and sat behind a nearby rock and chatted with two other soldiers. A third group collected behind another rock wall.
No one heard the clicks and rumbles of the grenade launcher above them 50 meters away.
The blasts began.
The first rocket-propelled grenade exploded on their plateau, followed by a hurricane of bullets from assault rifles and machine guns coming from in front of and behind them.
The group ran to the rock where Monti sat, hesitating to return fire. There were allies — possibly American soldiers — in that direction.
He grabbed the radio and shouted back to the command center. They were under attack and needed air support.
They couldn’t climb down from the plateau — the way down was too steep. It would kill them.
Behind Monti, one of his soldiers, a private, screamed. He was shot in the back and his wrist was gashed open — probably by a grenade fragment.
The private, whose name the Depart of Defense redacted in the report, crawled toward the group with Monti. He was bleeding and disoriented. Another soldier put pressure on the wrist wound while someone yelled for the medic.
Lybert leaned over the stone wall and fired back at the insurgents and rockets exploded around them.
“You couldn’t see anything but muzzle flashes and pops through the trees,” said one staff sergeant, who was not identified in the report.
Monti was firing back, positioning the men and shouting in the radio, doing what he did best — commanding everything at once.
He was their expert at calling in air attacks to precise locations, which was what they needed — now.
Everyone was there except for Pvt. Brian Bradbury, a 22-year-old from Missouri. He had to still be farther up — he hadn’t made it behind the rocks.
Monti and the soldiers shouted his name. The explosions drowned them out.
Lybert rose again from behind the rock to fire. He was shot. One bullet in his face. He collapsed.
Someone yelled that Lybert wasn’t moving. Blood was pooling beneath his body.
They continued firing, trying to ward off the insurgents closing in on their team from the east and west.
Bradbury was still nowhere to be found.
Monti called for his men to cover him. He would not let the young private remain out there alone.
Seconds passed. Bullets blasted the plateau.
Monti dropped back. He turned back into the fire.
“Help me!” he shouted.
Bradbury had been wounded when a grenade landed nearby earlier, injuring his arm and shoulder.
Another grenade had hit Monti as he dashed across the ridge to Bradbury, severely wounding his arm, leg and midsection.
He was 20 meters from his team. He screamed in pain. They fired at the insurgents as a fellow sergeant tried to dash toward him.
The sergeant ducked as more explosions came. He was 10 yards away.
He heard Monti gasp his last words.
“Tell my family I love them,” he said.
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Enterprise writer Jessica Scarpati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.