Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No Greater Love 
Rest in Peace, Michael Monsoor.

By spring 2006, Monsoor was deployed to Ramadi in Iraq's dangerous, then-al-Qaida dominated Anbar Province, as an automatic weapons gunner and communications operator — a double assignment that often landed him more than 100 pounds of gear to carry in the hot desert.

In May, Monsoor ran through heavy enemy fire to pull a wounded SEAL to safety. He earned a Silver Star, the third-highest award for combat valor, for that action.

It was only four months later, on Sept. 29, 2006, that Monsoor and his two American teammates, plus members of the Iraqi Army, were on a rooftop in a Ramadi residential area known as a stronghold for the Sunni insurgency. They were providing early warning and sniper cover for a mission aimed at trying to clear the neighborhood.

After a long day of back-and-forth engagement and evidence that the enemy was closing them off, Monsoor and the two other SEALS moved to a confined outcropping of the roof for a better lookout position. An unseen insurgent lobbed a grenade, which hit Monsoor in the chest and landed on the floor in front of him. He yelled a warning, but quickly saw that his fellow SEALS, not positioned near the exit like he was, wouldn't be able to get clear in time. Monsoor fell onto the grenade just as it exploded, absorbing the blast with his body and dying from the injuries about 30 minutes later. Others suffered shrapnel wounds, but no one else was killed.

The Garden Grove, Calif., native, was only 25 years old.

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