If you’ve raised a child, you are well acquainted with the triumphs and the terrors of giving those little tykes the sword with which they will conquer their world.
We all have those special dates we mark on the calendar. The birthdays. The anniversaries. For some among us, there are other dates. Moments in time, which very few among us are required to remember. Dates not one of us wants to recall.
Most of us go about our business, knowing but at the same time forgetting, that we are a nation at war. There are families among us, who must mark such a date every year. The date when that child was taken from us.
On June 21, 2006, Sergeant Jared Monti’s 16-man patrol was ambushed by a 50-member force of insurgents, on a high mountain ridge in Afghanistan. Pfc. Brian Bradbury, 22, was mortally wounded early in the fight, and lay on open ground close to the enemy position.
Never a man to leave a fallen comrade behind, twice Sergeant Monti exposed himself to overwhelming fire from three sides, in the attempt to rescue Private Bradbury. A rocket-propelled grenade ended the third such attempt. Jared Monti was 30.
In 2011, Army Sergeant First Class Jared Christopher Monti was awarded the Medal of Honor for the action which took his life. The first Massachusetts soldier so honored, since the war in Vietnam.
The following year, singer songwriter Lee Brice released “I drive your truck”, a song that went to country music song of the year in 2014. The “I” in the title, though he didn’t know it at the time, is Paul Monti, Jared’s father and a retired science teacher at Stoughton High School, in Massachusetts.
It’s Jared’s truck.
Several years ago, Paul was denied permission to place a flag on his son’s grave, at the National Cemetery in Bourne, here on Cape Cod. The authorities don’t like to be left cleaning things up.
Paul took it up the chain of command until he received permission. He could put the flag in, as long as he agreed to take it out a week later.
And that’s what he did. On every grave in the Bourne National Cemetery.
Today, ‘Operation Flags for Vets‘ is a semi-annual event, recurring on Memorial Day and again on Veteran’s day weekends. Later this morning, upwards of two thousand volunteers can be expected to join with the Monti family to place flags on every one of over 70,000 graves in the Massachusetts National Cemetery. A week later, they’ll be removed.
Medal of Honor citation
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
“Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in connection with combat operations against an enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on June 21st, 2006. While Staff Sergeant Monti was leading a mission aimed at gathering intelligence and directing fire against the enemy, his 16-man patrol was attacked by as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Staff Sergeant Monti quickly directed his men to set up a defensive position behind a rock formation. He then called for indirect fire support, accurately targeting the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still directing fire, Staff Sergeant Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank his patrol. Staff Sergeant Monti then realized that one of his soldiers was lying wounding on the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol’s position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Monti twice attempted to move from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of relentless enemy fire to rescue his fallen comrade. Determined not to leave his soldier, Staff Sergeant Monti made a third attempt to cross open terrain through intense enemy fire. On this final attempt, he was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his fellow soldier. Staff Sergeant Monti’s selfless acts of heroism inspired his patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Staff Sergeant Monti’s immeasurable courage and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and the United States Army”.