Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Michael Monsoor was born in Long Beach, CA, and followed in his father’s footsteps to serve in the military. As a SEAL during the Global War on Terror, Monsoor was frequently deployed to the Middle East. While in Iraq in 2006, Monsoor sacrificed his own life to save his fellow SEALs, an act for which he received the Medal of Honor.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael Monsoor was born in 1981 in Long Beach, California, the son of a Marine. He struggled with asthma growing up, but overcame it with swimming and sports.
In March 2001, Monsoor enlisted in the Navy, becoming a Master-at-Arms in the Navy Security Forces. His swimming and athletic background helped him graduate Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, commonly known as BUD/S, in 2004. Monsoor was the top graduate of BUD/S Class 250 and went to SEAL Team 3.
During the The Global War on Terror, units like SEAL Team 3 were frequently deployed to the Middle East. In April 2006, Monsoor deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, a pivotal city where a joint force of Americans and Iraqis fought Al Qaeda terrorists who chose Ramadi as their base of operations. SEAL Team 3 was tasked with training the new Iraqi Army and assaulting terrorist strongholds in the city.
Monsoor consistently demonstrated that he was especially selfless, and when a fellow SEAL was wounded in the middle of a street, Monsoor braved enemy fire to pull him to cover. This willingness to risk his own life to save another merited a Silver Star, the US military’s third-highest award for valor.
On September 29th, 2006, Monsoor was on a rooftop providing overwatch for SEALs and Iraqi Army soldiers, when insurgents attempted to assault their position. As the attackers fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, Monsoor fired back with his machine gun. An insurgent threw a grenade which bounced off Monsoor’s chest and landed right in front of him. He could have dove away, likely saving himself, but his fellow SEALs would have been hit. Instead, Monsoor dove onto the grenade, absorbing the deadly blast and saving his two comrades.
Monsoor’s team leader that day, Lt. Cmdr. Sarraille said: “Mikey probably had the greatest chance of survival. All he had to do was turn the other direction, jump and he would have lived. ... But due to Mikey's character and his quick train of thought, he knew that if he chose self-preservation, which is sometimes needed on the battlefield, Doug and I would most likely perish, and he was right.” Monsoor’s Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously by President George W. Bush, and received by his parents during a ceremony at the White House.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our associate producer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.