My Dad told many war stories, most of which have stuck because they were so vivid. One story was about training he underwent during the Israeli War of Independence. For my Dad, this was a review class, since he’d spent five years in combat during World War II.
The class was about grenades. The instructor had in his hand a glass jar with charges in it, which he shifted back and forth in his hand as he spoke. Meanwhile, the hot desert sun shone down on them. My father found himself mesmerized by the jar as it went back and forth between the instructor’s hands, with the sun glistening on the glass. At the same moment, my father and the instructor had the same realization — the glass was going to blow.
My father, in the back of the crowd, seized the soldier next to him and threw her down out of the line of fire . . . but there was no line of fire. The instructor had clutched the jar to his chest and thrown himself on top of it. He was killed instantly, but every other person in the area survived, free of injury, because of his quick-thinking and willingness to sacrifice himself (especially, one might say, to sacrifice himself to his own error in mishandling explosives).
I thought of this story when I read today’s Press Release from CENTCOM, which involved, not a man correcting his own mistake, but a man in the line of enemy fire who freely gave his life for others:
According [to] Merriam-Webster’s On-Line, a hero is a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; one that shows great courage.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, 25, of Garden Grove, Calif., died Sept. 29 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ramadi, Iraq.
Monsoor was a Navy SEAL assigned to a West-Coast based command.
Monsoor gave his life in order to save the lives of his brothers in arms. An Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into a position occupied by Monsoor and three other SEALS. According to a report in the Associated Press Monsoor was struck in the chest by the grenade. Monsoor immediately threw himself on top of the grenade saving the lives of the other three. Two other SEALs where [sic] injured and the fourth was unhurt.
From Rear Adm. Joe Maguire, USN – Commander Naval Special Warfare Command, “On behalf of the entire Naval Special Warfare community, we mourn the loss of Master at Arms Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, who died conducting some of our military’s most important missions. It’s been said that we cannot decide whether we live or die – we know one day we will die – but as people, as men and warriors, we can only decide what we will die for. This Sailor along with our two wounded teammates chose a life of significant meaning — to defend freedom and protect America and its allies from terrorism. We grieve with and support the family and friends who support our warriors on a daily basis. We hope that in time Michael’s family is comforted in knowing that he died fighting for what he believed in and we will not forget his sacrifice.”
According to The Navy Times, Monsoor was a native of Garden Grove, Calif., and joined the service in March 2001, according to Navy records. He was a member of BUD/S class 250, and had been serving with SEAL Team 3 since April 2005.
Monsoor is the second SEAL to die in Iraq.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, the definition of the word hero.