Video of President Barack Obama's remarks at the ceremony posthumously
awarding Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti the Medal of Honor on Sept. 17, 2009.
Text of the presentation after the video
Video of Jared Monti's family and fellow soldiers heartfelt thoughts about his ultimate, heroic sacrifice . . . and him.
Medal of Honor Presentation to Jared Monti's Parents by President Barack Obama
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Good afternoon, and welcome
to the White House.
Of all the privileges serving as President, there's no greater honor than
serving as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military that the world has ever
known. And of all the military decorations that a President and a nation can
bestow, there is none higher than the Medal of Honor.
It has been nearly 150 years since our nation first presented this medal for
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and
beyond the call of duty. And in those nearly 150 years -- through civil war and
two world wars, Korea and Vietnam, Desert Storm and Somalia, Afghanistan and
Iraq, and countless battles in between -- tens of millions of Americans have
worn the uniform. But fewer than 3,500 have been recognized with the Medal of
Honor. And in our time, these remarkable Americans are literally one in a
million. And today we recognize another -- Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti.
The Medal of Honor reflects the admiration and gratitude of the nation. So we
are joined by members of Congress -- including from Sergeant Monti's home state
of Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry and Congressman Barney Frank. We're joined
by our Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Admiral Mike Mullen, and leaders from across the Armed Forces.
We are joined by the leaders of the Army to which Sergeant Monti dedicated his
life: Secretary Pete Geren; our incoming Secretary -- confirmed by the Senate
last night -- John McHugh; Chief of Staff General George Casey; Sergeant Major
of the Army Ken Preston; and Jared's fellow soldiers and commanders from the
legendary 10th Mountain Division. And we are joined by those who now welcome
Sergeant Monti into their storied ranks -- members of the Medal of Honor
But today is not about high officials and those with stars on their shoulders.
It's a celebration of a young soldier and those who loved him, who made him into
the man he was and who join us today. His mother Janet; his father Paul; his
brother Tim; and his sister Niccole -- and from his grandmother Marjorie to his
six-year old niece Carys, and cousins and aunts and uncles from across America
-- more than 120 proud family and friends.
Duty. Honor. Country. Service. Sacrifice. Heroism. These are words of weight.
But as people -- as a people and as a culture, we often invoke them lightly. We
toss them around freely. But do we really grasp the meaning of these values? Do
we truly understand the nature of these virtues? To serve, and to sacrifice.
Jared Monti knew. The Monti family knows. And they know that the actions we
honor today were not a passing moment of courage. They were the culmination of a
life of character and commitment.
There was Jared's compassion. He was the kid at school who, upon seeing a
student eating lunch alone, would walk over and befriend him. He was the
teenager who cut down a spruce tree in his yard so a single mom in town would
have a Christmas tree for her children. He even bought the ornaments and the
presents. He was the soldier in Afghanistan who received care packages,
including fresh clothes, and gave them away to Afghan children who needed them
There was Jared's perseverance. Cut from the high school basketball team, he
came back the next year, and the next year, and the next year -- three times --
finally making varsity and outscoring some of the top players. Told he was too
young for the military, he joined the National Guard's delayed entry program as
a junior in high school. And that summer, while other kids were at the beach,
Jared was doing drills.
There was Jared's strength and skill -- the championship wrestler and triathlete
who went off to basic training, just 18 years old, and then served with
distinction as a forward observer, with the heavy responsibility of calling in
air strikes. He returned from his first tour in Afghanistan highly decorated,
including a Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for valor.
And there was Jared's deep and abiding love for his fellow soldiers. Maybe it
came from his mom, who was a nurse. Maybe it came from his dad, a teacher.
Guided by the lessons he learned at home, Jared became the consummate NCO -- the
noncommissioned officer caring for his soldiers and teaching his troops. He
called them his "boys." And although obviously he was still young himself, some
of them called him "grandpa." (Laughter.)
Compassion. Perseverance. Strength. A love for his fellow soldiers. Those are
the values that defined Jared Monti's life -- and the values he displayed in the
actions that we recognize here today.
It was June 21st, 2006, in the remotest northeast of Afghanistan, near the
border with Pakistan. Sergeant Monti was a team leader on a 16-man patrol.
They'd been on the move for three days -- down dirt roads; sloshing through
rivers; hiking up steep mountain trails, their heavy gear on their backs; moving
at night and in the early morning to avoid the scorching 100-degree heat. Their
mission: to keep watch on the valley down below in advance of an operation to
clear the area of militants.Those who were there remember that evening on the mountain -- a rocky ridge, not
much bigger than this room. Some were standing guard, knowing they had been
spotted by a man in the valley. Some were passing out MREs and water. There was
talk of home and plans for leave. Jared was overheard remembering his time
serving in Korea. Then, just before dark, there was a shuffle of feet in the
woods. And that's when the treeline exploded in a wall of fire.
One member of the patrol said it was "like thousands of rifles crackling."
Bullets and heavy machine gunfire ricocheting across the rocks. Rocket-propelled
grenades raining down. Fire so intense that weapons were shot right out of their
hands. Within minutes, one soldier was killed; another was wounded. Everyone
dove for cover. Behind a tree. A rock. A stone wall. This patrol of 16 men was
facing a force of some 50 fighters. Outnumbered, the risk was real. They might
be overrun. They might not make it out alive.
That's when Jared Monti did what he was trained to do. With the enemy advancing
-- so close they could hear their voices -- he got on his radio and started
calling in artillery. When the enemy tried to flank them, he grabbed a gun and
drove them back. And when they came back again, he tossed a grenade and drove
them back again. And when these American soldiers saw one of their own --
wounded, lying in the open, some 20 yards away, exposed to the approaching enemy
-- Jared Monti did something no amount of training can instill. His patrol
leader said he'd go, but Jared said, "No, he is my soldier, I'm going to get
It was written long ago that "the bravest are surely those who have the clearest
vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet, notwithstanding,
go out to meet it." Jared Monti saw the danger before him. And he went out to
He handed off his radio. He tightened his chin strap. And with his men providing
cover, Jared rose and started to run. Into all those incoming bullets. Into all
those rockets. Upon seeing Jared, the enemy in the woods unleashed a firestorm.
He moved low and fast, yard after yard, then dove behind a stone wall.
A moment later, he rose again. And again they fired everything they had at him,
forcing him back. Faced with overwhelming enemy fire, Jared could have stayed
where he was, behind that wall. But that was not the kind of soldier Jared Monti
was. He embodied that creed all soldiers strive to meet: "I will always place
the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never
leave a fallen comrade." And so, for a third time, he rose. For a third time, he
ran toward his fallen comrade. Said his patrol leader, it "was the bravest thing
I had ever seen a soldier do."
They say it was a rocket-propelled grenade; that Jared made it within a few
yards of his wounded soldier. They say that his final words, there on that ridge
far from home, were of his faith and his family: "I've made peace with God. Tell
my family that I love them."
And then, as the artillery that Jared had called in came down, the enemy fire
slowed, then stopped. The patrol had defeated the attack. They had held on --
but not without a price. By the end of the night, Jared and three others,
including the soldier he died trying to save, had given their lives.
I'm told that Jared was a very humble guy; that he would have been uncomfortable
with all this attention; that he'd say he was just doing his job; and that he'd
want to share this moment with others who were there that day. And so, as Jared
would have wanted, we also pay tribute to those who fell alongside him: Staff
Sergeant Patrick Lybert. Private First Class Brian Bradbury. Staff Sergeant
And we honor all the soldiers he loved and who loved him back -- among them
noncommissioned officers who remind us why the Army has designated this "The
Year of the NCO" in honor of all those sergeants who are the backbone of
America's Army. They are Jared's friends and fellow soldiers watching this
ceremony today in Afghanistan. They are the soldiers who this morning held their
own ceremony on an Afghan mountain at the post that now bears his name -- Combat
Outpost Monti. And they are his "boys" -- surviving members of Jared's patrol,
from the 10th Mountain Division -- who are here with us today. And I would ask
them all to please stand. (Applause.)
Like Jared, these soldiers know the meaning of duty, and of
honor, of country. Like Jared, they remind us all that the price of freedom is
great. And by their deeds they challenge every American to ask this question:
What we can do to be better citizens? What can we do to be worthy of such
service and such sacrifice?
Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti. In his proud hometown of Raynham, his name
graces streets and scholarships.
Across a grateful nation, it graces parks and
military posts. From this day forward, it will grace the memorials to our Medal
of Honor heroes.
And this week, when Jared Monti would have celebrated his 34th
birthday, we know that his name and legacy will live forever, and shine
brightest, in the hearts of his family and friends who will love him always.
May God bless Jared Monti, and may He comfort the entire Monti
family. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Janet, Paul, would you please join me at the podium for the
reading of the
President Barack Obama stands with Paul and Janet Monti as he posthumously awards their son,
Army Sgt. 1st. Class Jared C. Monti from Raynham, Mass., the Medal of Honor for his service in
Afghanistan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza