Above and Beyond

monsoor.jpg
Credit: U.S. Navy

Navy Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor was a hero.

He grew up in Garden Grove, Calif., and overcame childhood asthma to enlist in the Navy. He fought his way through Navy SEAL training to earn his coveted "trident" in 2004. And he went on to serve with great distinction in combat as a SEAL team member, earning a Silver Star in May 2006.

Then, on Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor sacrificed his life when his SEAL team encountered heavy enemy contact:

Due to expected enemy action, the officer in charge repositioned him with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction of the enemy's most likely avenue of approach. He placed him in a small, confined sniper hide-sight between two SEAL snipers on an outcropping of the roof, which allowed the three SEALs maximum coverage of the area. He was located closest to the egress route out of the sniper hide-sight watching for enemy activity through a tactical periscope over the parapet wall. While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. He immediately leapt to his feet and yelled "grenade" to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.

For this action, President Bush posthumously awarded Petty Officer Monsoor the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony yesterday.

Within the military, we decorate our heroes (and Monsoor certainly is one) to reward their bravery and establish their example as one we might aspire to. Monsoor's actions deserve our admiration and awe.

I am deeply disturbed, however, by the White House's unfortunate decision to hold this ceremony on April 8, 2008 -- the same day as the Petraeus and Crocker testimony before Congress. The timing of this ceremony could not have been accidental. It was clearly a political maneuver; an attempt to leverage the personal valor of Petty Officer Monsoor for political gain. That is wrong. Petty Officer Monsoor's sacrifice and valor are worthy of their own day -- not one designed for maximum political advantage.

By Phillip Carter |  April 9, 2008; 12:01 PM ET  | Category:  Iraq
Previous: Petraeus Overplays His Hand | Next: Compassionate Command

Comments

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I wrote about CPO 2 Monsoor at the time of his death nearly two years ago. The offense I take at the opprobrium of the timing here I feel to such a degree, that if CPO 2 Monsoor were a member of my family, I would denounce the pentagon and the president publicly for such despicable behavior. Shame, shame, shame.

Posted by: --Blue Girl | April 9, 2008 12:23 PM

Anything this administration does is for political gain. Every comment on Iraq or the economy ( they all are positive comments- dead enders,mission accomplished,etc.) It is only done to make themselves look good.

Posted by: RTR | April 9, 2008 1:18 PM

I don't agree that the timing was deliberate - if it was, they've done a lousy job of playing up the connection.

I do agree that it was ridiculously incompetent to schedule the ceremony on the same date as Petraeus' testimony. I've seen a lot of fulminating on right-wing blogs about the lack of coverage for Mansoor - none of them seem to recognize that you can't have two big stories on the same day and expect them to get equal coverage.

As a grizzled old veteran once told me: "never chalk up to conspiracy what can more readily be explained by incompetence."

Posted by: Ray Kimball | April 9, 2008 1:20 PM

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued for political gain. 150 years later, most people think it was what ended slavery. Sometimes things are done in the name of political gain in order to bolster public support. Honor, truth, heroic deaths, etc. are used as punchlines. I don't particularly care for the war in Iraq, nor am I comparing Bush to Lincoln, but things like this have been done for as long as human beings have equated battlefield deaths with heroism.

At least he's using examples of human suffering and courage to advance a cause, rather than gain popularity and, ultimately, public office (a la Hillary). Could be worse. Just have to keep these things in perspective.

Posted by: JS85 | April 9, 2008 1:36 PM

Blue Girl you should know that Monsoor was not a CPO. CPO stands for Chief Petty Officer. Monsoor was a PO2 (Second Class Petty Officer.

Get over the fact that both news articles took place on the same day. There was plenty of coverage on Monsoor's family receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH) for their son. The ceremony was not played down just because Congress was grilling Petraeus and Crocker.

Posted by: PBR Captain | April 9, 2008 2:26 PM

Truly a Great MAN, I am honored to have worn the same uniform as this MAN. I will be placing a "post" on my blog to Honor him. I am sure he has been honored in Heaven. I pray for a Special Blessing to the family he left behind. May God Bless Our Troops, Leaders, and AMERICA.
veteran-resources.blogspot.com

Posted by: Terry Burton | April 9, 2008 3:14 PM

Hero
that is all there is to say.
also, I appreciate you using a photo with the faces blurred out. The same photo has been posted without the blur on other websites. I know it is a small thing, but your blog keeps opsec and keeps the men who were saved that day safe by blurring their faces

Posted by: spenfree | April 9, 2008 3:48 PM

As to the timing, obvious. . . These incompetents are ever soooo predictable.

Bush has no, absolutely NO credibility when it comes to his war, his lies after all are what got us into this mess.

So Petreaus II rolls into town, but Bush gets his photo-op presenting a posthumous CMOH on the same day, looking ever soooo Pretzidental without a downside, that is without having to explain the obvious, that is what is the General doing before Congress explaining Bush's war . . .

The troops serve as a prop, or isn't that clear at this point?

If you want the latest feel-good bromide you can always order Yon's latest book and attempt to convince yourself over your own lying eyes. . . such is the situation in the Empire of Delusion.

Posted by: seydlitz89 | April 9, 2008 4:44 PM

The actual act itself, PO2 Monsoor's act, was anything but political, was rather religious , spiritual, one brother giving his life for his brothers. . . what does that have to do with Bush's war?

Posted by: seydlitz89 | April 9, 2008 5:17 PM

Why is the timing "obvious"? Did the ceremony reduce or impact media coverage of the Petraeus/Crocker testimony? There could be many reasons why the ceremony was held when it was. Just saying it is "obvious" when it had no discernable effect on press coverage of the Petraeus hearing is proof of nothing.

Furthermore, this is cynical compared to what? Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Jay Rockefeller repeatedly telling us that Saddam had WMD and constituted a threat to our security from the 1990's through 2002 and who voted to authorize the war but now want to pretend none of that happened while they accuse Bush of lying about WMD's? Harry Reid declaring the surge a failure before it even started? Durbin and Kennedy comparing the US military to Saddam and the Nazis in reference to Abu Ghraib? Given the malfeasance and dishonesty of Democrats in this matter, anything that the Bush Administration can do to bolster support for the war is warranted. There is a context for everything and in this context, Bush hasn't come close to the cynical, dishonest opportunism of the Democrats.

Posted by: jt007 | April 9, 2008 6:00 PM

What seydlitz89 said.

The awarding on this date was shameless puffupery, diametrically opposite to the heroic gesture of PO2 Monsoor's act. I am sickened to consider the motivations of this bankrupt administration in the same moment with Monsoor's.

The former is utterly undeserving of being favored by any positive blowback from the latter's pure action

Posted by: rangerjim | April 9, 2008 6:12 PM

"Durbin and Kennedy comparing the US military to Saddam and the Nazis in reference to Abu Ghraib?"

That's pretty off the mark ain't it? What exactly is the Demos angle on Bush's torture policy? The artless stumble of attempting to link it with the "N" word falls really flat. You should have quit way sooner than you did, like maybe before you decided to post . . .

Posted by: seydlitz89 | April 9, 2008 6:21 PM

PBR Captain, while correcting Blue Girl on naval ranks, you apparently overlooked the fact that there is no such thing as a Congressional Medal of Honor. It is the Medal of Honor. No more, no less. And, yes, the ceremony was clearly designed for maximum political payback for a president that dearly needs whatever favorable press he can get.

I like this from Ray Kimball: "As a grizzled old veteran once told me: "never chalk up to conspiracy what can more readily be explained by incompetence."

IOTM that Ray's absolutely correct about the incompetence displayed here. Yes, the medal ceremony was all about political gain, but the bozos in charge of White House scheduling apparently didn't realize that Petraeus would command center stage, thus leaving their main man as an afterthought. I leave to everyone's imagination as to why the president, astute and always in-touch politician that he is, didn't step in to address this gaffe on the part of his minions.

Posted by: Publius | April 9, 2008 9:23 PM

I believe that the honor was awarded at the appropriate time when people were listening to the events unfolding in Washington. Any other time would have found the citizens of this country too preoccupied with the housing bust, bank failures, pompous posturing presidential candidates and talking heads wondering who the next American Idol would be. It was at the right time contrary to the pathetic liberals rantings. Go hero and God be with you, I would take an platoon of such men to a gaggle of clucking liberals any day.

Posted by: Windsailor | April 9, 2008 9:26 PM

I agree with your article. Politicians will use anything to influence public opinion. In 1969 my cousin Albert Whittle (Skip), was killed in Vietnam. He fell on a grenade. During that time George Bush was flying a desk in the states instead of Vietnam. I was the military escort for his "remains", which they refused to let me view. At the funeral home the director and his assistants opened the casket while I was in another room. I only heard their screams. I presented my Aunt with the folded flag. He never received the Congressional Medal of Honor like many other brave heoes but only the Purple Heart and the tears of his family. When will we learn form our mistakes time is running out.

Posted by: James McKeown | April 9, 2008 10:53 PM

This Pro-Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Vet CARES LESS if some Cluless Clod of the Loony Left
is "distressed" at the timing of a HERO getting the medal he deserves.

The FACTS more than prove the Iraq War is FULLY Justified and a necessary part of our war on terror. Anyone who disgrees is either too lazy to avail themselves of sufficent information or they are so stupid, they are unable to comprehend the information they get.

We are in a war against a bunch of religious nuts who have been Killing Americans for over 25 years. Iraq is one part of that war.


Bin Laden and other Moslem Fanatic leaders, fully intend to take over our entire planet
and put all of still alive under a Taliban forme of rule.

And as some one hundred million Moslem nuts have pledged to Fight, Kill & Die to assure this happens, you anti-war clods should get the message our pulling out of Iraq only gives them another base of operations.

So Children, try getting a Clue!

Posted by: Neil C Reinhardt | April 9, 2008 11:04 PM

This Pro-Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Vet CARES LESS if some Cluless Clod of the Loony Left
is "distressed" at the timing of a HERO getting the medal he deserves.

The FACTS prove the Iraq War is FULLY Justified and a necessary part of our war on terrorl. And anyone who disgrees is either too lazy to avail themselves of sufficent information or they are so stupid, they are unable to comprehend the information they get.

We are in a war against a bunch of religious nuts who have been Killing Americans for over 25 years. Iraq is one part of that war.
Bin Laden and other Moslem Fanatic leaders, fully intend to take over our entire planet
and put all of still alive under a Taliban forme of rule.

And as some one hundred million Moslem nuts have pledged to Fight, Kill & Die to assure this happens, you anti-war clods should get the message that pulling our of Iraq only gives them another base of operations.

So Children, try getting a Clue!

Posted by: Neil C Reinhardt | April 9, 2008 11:06 PM

To windsailor:

Being a liberal is not exclusive of being a patriot, nor a hero. If you look at your military history, heroes come in all flavors.

What a pathetic comment if you feel the nation would not be attentive to only the 4th MOH awarded in this fiasco. Surely you can't believe that tripe, based on the obvious attention given to the previous posthumous awards.

Posted by: rangerjim | April 9, 2008 11:56 PM

The Emancipation Proclamation was for politcal gain? Well, no doubt so was the Declaration of Independence. Both had a purpose to rally one's own side to defeat the other. But the EP had a practical & strategic dimension also: to deprive the enemy of its black slaves. Incidentally, it was also the morally right thing to do, & Lincoln judged that the time was right for him to legally do it.

What is despicable about Bush & Co is to use the heroism of a single man they put in harm's way to leverage their own short term political gain.

Posted by: toby | April 10, 2008 5:14 AM

While I cant say for this one specific instance, it seems clear to me that this administration has been using the Armed Forces as props for their propaganda machinery. "Lets Roll"/"Mission Accomplished" leaps to mind.

And Neil C. Reinhardt, you write: "Anyone who disgrees is either too lazy to avail themselves of sufficent information or they are so stupid, they are unable to comprehend the information they get." Are you aware of the fact that that is a sociopaths way of arguing?

Posted by: fnord | April 10, 2008 6:23 AM

One wonders just exactly what service the ubiquitous angry agnostic Mr. Reinhardt is a "vet" from, given his age (71 last I heard) and apparent inclination to standing on street corners and yelling at people (no, not kidding), it would be interesting to learn.

Those who want a giggle, see http://reinhardt.worldwidewarning.net/

A roll-up of what they site owners call "Reinhardtisms".

Classic.

Bob Bateman

Posted by: Robert Bateman | April 10, 2008 6:25 AM

I think Ray Kimball's right--more like bureaucratic incompetence. Some staffer (who may well have never served) probably thought it'd help their "IO campaign", but instead it's just gotten the Medal award swallowed by the wall-to-wall Petraeus/Crocker coverage.

Personal view: I thought Ike Skelton's opening statement was pretty astute, but even there I'm not sure that Afghanistan is a place we want to commit a bunch more ground forces. I'd rather the Afghans win it themselves, with the minimum help we can get away with rendering, under T.E. Lawrence's maxim of counterinsurgency.

Being in Iraq now, I think it's time for Iraqis to pony up. Many Iraqis are ponying up every day with their lives and that of their families, but many political types are not serious about fixing the country's problems, but have other petty agendas.

Posted by: Robineus | April 10, 2008 7:05 AM

First, every administration seeks political gain. Second, you do know that Petraus was originally scheduled to testify last week and that it was Petraeus who asked for a delay in testifying till this week? And does anyone believe that Bush controls the Congressional schedule? So perhaps the scheduling is simply due to happenstance. I know that isn't what the BDS crowd wants to hear.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 10, 2008 3:32 PM

Assuming a 4 second cook-off, or something near that allowing for the time it took for the granade to roll off the roof, I don't know how instinctive it is to yell granade then throw yourself onto a grenade that just bounced off your chest!

Normal reaction is to try and toss it out of your position, kick it or to just run. [Maybe grenade sumps were not practical nor not needed based on the threat?]

I am sorry but for what I know about "chucking 'nades" and the fact that it was thrown by an unseen enemy I can only think of Pat Tillman!

Go ahead and send the comment flack but think about the scenario!

My hats off to the Seal and his family!

Posted by: Take one for the Gipper! | April 11, 2008 12:00 AM

Let me be crystal clear on this:

This young NCO was a very - literally suicidally - brave man. I could not and would not be able to have done what he did. I have nothing but respect for the man and sorrow for his family and friends.

But I seem to remember that we got a lot of this "falling on a grenade" heroism out of Vietnam, before, mmmm, not so much. Could it be that, while bayonetting lethally competent Herrnvolk and singlehandedly slaughtering Emperor-crazed Japanese in their pillboxes was considered heroic, cutting down brave but outgunned Asians in a neocolonial occupation is just a teeny bit less Boy's Life/Time magazine cover material?

Just a thought.

Posted by: FDChief | April 11, 2008 4:15 AM

And I gotta go with the Gipper on the whole "throw, kick or run" issue. Call me an optimist, but I'd have probably died trying to huck the thing back.

Posted by: FDChief | April 11, 2008 4:17 AM

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including my life." That is honor, and there are way too many people in
this country who no longer understand it.

RIP Brother

Posted by: E.S. SF Medic | April 11, 2008 4:57 PM

there is the professional world of warcraft power leveling here. welcome.

Posted by: jimelyyes | May 7, 2008 9:12 PM

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