Honoring Courage, Sacrifice, and Heroism

Paul Rieckhoff is the Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the author of Chasing Ghosts. In his September blog post titled “Immeasurable Courage and Uncommon Valor”— Sgt. First Class Jared C. Monti Rieckhoff gives us a glimpse into the heart of a courageous soldier. A few excerpts:
Last Thursday, we were reminded of what true courage, sacrifice, and heroism is all about. At a private White House ceremony, worlds away from the polarizing health care fight and the latest Kanye West stunt, President Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to the family of Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest decoration for military valor. It’s received, not won. And it’s a distinction so rare that in 150 years, less than 3,500 servicemembers have received it. To put it in perspective, this is less than the number of troops that have bravely given their lives during the Iraq war.

Sgt. Monti was only the sixth recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, all posthumously.

Like those honored before him, Sgt. Monti is to be revered for his exceptional bravery and tremendous personal sacrifice. At age 17, before he was eligible to vote, Monti enlisted in the Army. Returning from his first tour in Afghanistan, he was already highly decorated with the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal for valor. A consummate soldier, and equally humble, his own father didn’t know Monti received the Bronze Star until he found it resting, tucked away in his son’s drawer.
But the day that would come to define his gallant service and leave a legacy beyond what many of us could fathom occurred on June 21, 2006 in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan Border. Sgt. Monti was in charge of a 16-man patrol from the 3rd Squadron of the 71st Calvary Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. Positioned on a mountaintop, Monti’s team was swarmed by Taliban fighters. While engaging the enemy, Monti simultaneously radioed for help, until he saw that one of his men, Pvt. Brian Bradbury was badly injured, and exposed to enemy fire.

Sgt. Monti’s patrol leader volunteered to rescue Pvt. Bradbury, but Monti insisted he be the one to go, saying: “No, he is my soldier, I’m going to get him.” Despite the intense enemy gunfire, Monti ran into the open and attempted twice to retrieve his wounded comrade. On his third try, he was cut down by a rocket-propelled grenade, and died shortly thereafter. His actions in that moment, however inspired his men to thwart the Taliban fighters, thanks in part to the air support Monti had called for before his death.

This past Sunday would have been Monti’s 34th birthday.
Please read the rest of the story here.. it is a way to honor a veteran on this day we dedicate to those who have given all for freedom.

The picture to the left is one of my courageous son taken over in Iraq. Today I am taking a moment to remember the joy I felt when he came home and giving thanks for his service. In my son I see the qualities of honor, courage, sacrifice and heroism that Paul Rieckhoff saw in Jared C. Monti. Our veterans deserve to be honored today.

Please take a moment of silence with me and meditate on the service of those who have given so much and have asked for so little.


  1. I pray your son will always be safe

  2. Thanks Rygel. After four and a half years of service my son happily returned to civilian life last year.


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