This is going to be bad for someone


A former Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for repeatedly racing into a firefight to try and rescue fellow Marines is suing defense giant BAE Systems, claiming the company ruined his chances for a job in the defense industry by claiming he was unstable and a problem drinker.

Former Sgt. Dakota Meyer filed the lawsuit Monday, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Meyer, who worked for BAE Systems earlier this year, claims in the court documents that BAE retaliated against him when he objected the company’s decision to sell high-powered sniper scopes to Pakistan. He also says his supervisor at BAE ended his chance at getting a job with another defense contractor by alleging Meyer had alcohol and psychological problems, the paper reports.

I think BAE will be the one to suffer from this one. I don’t see America siding with the gigantic British-owned defense contractor over the modern day war-hero. In all honesty, BAE just started crap with the wrong guy as there is no way a Marine who ran into blinding enemy fire 5 times to rescue his comrades is going to let this happen without a fight. The guy has litteraly walked into the gates of hell and back out and survived to tell about it. 

The lawyers and public relations people at BAE must be going bat-shit crazy right now on how to do damage control on this one. They better hurry up and find their scapegoat soon. 

 

Read more at 

http://www.military.com/news/article/moh-recipient-meyer-sues-contractor.html

Too long in coming


Army Capt. Will Swenson has been recommended by the top U.S. general in Afghanistan for the Medal of Honor after widespread speculation about why his heroism had gone unrecognized, according to a published report.

Swenson braved enemy fire on Sept. 8, 2009, with Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, who will receive the nation’s top valor award Thursday at the White House. Meyer, now a sergeant in the Individual Ready Reserve, told Marine Corps Times recently that it was “ridiculous” Swenson already hadn’t received some form of valor award.

“I’ll put it this way,” the outspoken Meyer said in an interview. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, took a personal interest in the fierce firefight in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, that led to Meyer’s award, according to a report published on The Wall Street Journal’s website Wednesday night. The record of the battle was reopened last month, and “given the four-star general’s personal interest, sworn statements attesting to Capt. Swenson’s valor were quickly found.”

“Gen. Allen has since forwarded a Medal of Honor recommendation, saying it was the right thing to do despite a lapse of two years,” the report said.

As the story says (http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/09/military-medal-of-honor-william-swenson-report-ganjgal-hero-recommended-091411w/) this has taken too long to make happen and I along with many others are highly suspicious why it took so long for this recommendation to go forward.

This delayed recommendation has several scandalous facets to it. First and foremost is that even thought Dakota Meyer was nominated for and received the Medal of Honor, CPT Swenson was not even put in for an Army Commendation Medal, much less anything near MoH or the MoH itself. As documented in multiple sworn statements, CPT Swenson was side by side, performing the same heroic actions as Dakota Meyer.  (more…)

Book Review: The Lions of Kandahar

Thanks to the many hours of personal time spent blogging, I have been lucky enough to have publishers and authors send me books to read and review. I have a stack of them next to my bed and I usually spend at least a few minutes every day reading. Some are good and some are just awesome. When I say “awesome” I mean can’t put it down awesome.

One of the books I just finished qualifies as “can’t put it down AWESOME”. It is called the Lions of Kandahar and is written by Special Forces Major Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer.

 

I have received a few books that talk about some awesome battle that nobody has heard about or what a tide-turner in the war on terror. Usually when they say that, my eyebrow raises with skepticism. The subtitle on this book does not say that, it just states “The Story of a Fight Against all Odds”. However once you get into the book reading about this one significant battle then it comes clear that the battle of Sperwan Ghar in Kandahar Province Afghanistan was truly a battle that shaped the war there not only that year but for years to come.

I am a big fan of James F. Christ’s books about huge but unknown battles in Afghanistan in his series that he has written about Embedded Training Teams (ETT). I am a fan, not only because I was an ETT, but several of them are written about battles that happened when I was there and many include people I know. Rusty’s book stuck with me for some of the same reasons. Even though he has multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq this book is written about one specific battle that happened in 2006, the same time I was there. In fact this battle was part of a larger operation called Operation Medusa. At the same time that Medusa was happening I was involved with Operation Mountain Fury which was a shaping operation for Meduda. So this book did strike a chord with me for that reason also.  (more…)

Video portrayal of David Bellavia’s actions in Iraq

I found this video today thanks to David himself. I had no idea that someone had created a re-enactment of one of his actions in Iraq in 2004. Not just any action but the one for which he was and still is recommended for the Medal of Honor. David is a friend and I am glad to call him such. 

I talked about David’s book, House to House, which has this one incident documented in great detail along with a whole lots more from this tour. You can read that posting at: http://www.bouhammer.com/2010/09/my-own-return/

Take a minute and listen to David talk about this one particular day as they show the re-enactment and then go check out the book at: http://www.amazon.com/House-David-Bellavia/dp/1416574719  because you won’t be disappointed in reading it. 

 

 

Remembering Robbie Miller

Bouhammer Note- The following blog post was written by a friend of mine (MT) who knew Medal of Honor Recipient Robbie Miller well. Tomorrow on October 6th, Robbie’s parents will be presented with his Medal of Honor by President Obama. In light of that fact, MT wanted to write this guest post highlighting how he remembers his friend. A man that the world will now know as a true hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for his brothers and his country. 

 

When I first met Rob Miller he was just a young kid from Cocoa Beach FL who left home to join the Army and become a Green Beret. I first met him in the Q-Course during Robin Sage.

We were not on the same team or anything but we had met in passing and that was enough to leave an impression. After Robin Sage we were assigned to Language School and we both wound up in the same French class. We spent the next four months together trying to learn French. I remember he was a lot better than I was and he seemed to pick it up really fast, something he always attributed that to his mother.

He always got along with everyone and he would regularly bring in surfing videos for everyone to watch. I would ask him what he did this weekend and his regular answer would be, “went to the outer banks and slept on the beach and surfed”.

After language school we seemed to go our separate ways for awhile but we would soon run into each other in the same battalion and same company. He was only a couple doors down from me for about the next two years. We both attended a driving course together and he was fitting right in with his team and learning the ropes before our first deployment.

My team was asked to conduct some drown proofing for Rob’s team and I relished the chance to mess with Rob a little bit. So at the pool I ran some of the guys through a few water drills while continually sharking (dragging him underwater) Rob. He was a great sport and took the harassment in stride; it also helped that he was an exceptional swimmer, with his surfing and all.

That evening we all went to the river to do some boat work. After we did various drills in the boats we started showing all the guys how to catch catfish. I remember Rob was running his own boat and was having a blast catching catfish. He would come find me every hour or so and dump off a couple of catfish that he had caught so I could put them in the live well. We camped out on the river that night and had a great time.

Shortly after that we deployed for the first time with our teams. When we all got back from that deployment Rob went to Ranger school. The biggest thing that I remember is that when he got back I asked him how it was and he said that it was the biggest waste of time that he had ever been a part of. It wasn’t that he was putting the school down, he just didn’t learn anything new. He went to Ranger school in the six month break we had between deployments. Being equally busy, that was the last time I ever saw him before he was killed. I still remember the day that I found out that he had been killed, where I was, what I was doing, and what we did after.

Rob was a great man who loved his brothers and would lay down his life for them. The only solace that I had in his death is that he died with his gun in his hand giving the enemy a good fight. I only hope that when the time comes for me to join him that I can do it with as much courage and selflessness as he did. RIP Rob, we miss you brother; I will carry your memory always.

 
Official Citation

Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, U.S. Army, heroically distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous conduct in the face of the enemy of the U.S. while serving as the Weapons Sergeant, Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3312, Special Operations Task Force–33, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–Afghanistan, Forward Operating Base Naray, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 25, 2008, ODA 3312 conducted a combat reconnaissance patrol to Gowardesh, Afghanistan, to confirm or deny enemy activity and/or insurgents presence in the vicinity of Chen Khar in order to clear the valley of insurgent safe havens. This area was known to have several high- and medium-value targets massing and operating freely in the valley and three surrounding villages. The area of operations was also symbolically and strategically important because it was a Russian-era chokepoint, provided the enemy a tactical advantage due to its high ground and deep valley summits, and was a well-known insurgent stronghold.

Insurgents had prepared reinforced rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fighting positions with fortified overhead cover throughout the valley. They also amassed weapons caches comprised of RPGs, PKM medium machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition, and food stores in the event of a protracted engagement.

The enemy’s confidence and morale was at a two-year high following a series of tactical successes against Afghan National Security Forces. The experience garnered from these battles, continued refinement of sophisticated tactics, techniques and procedures (including ambushes) and the expansion of insurgent forces in the region threatened the Coalition’s ability to operate freely in this key terrain. Insurgents were confident in their ability to win any battle against Coalition Forces on their own terrain.

As the combined ODA and ANA convoy neared its objective, ODA 3312 was forced to halt twice to dismount and explode insurgent-emplaced boulders along its route. Staff Sgt. Miller and other members of ODA 3312 recognized this tactict as a potential precursor to an insurgent ambush and immediately heightened security. Recognizing the historical enemy tactic used to canalize and ambush Coalition forces, the detachment dismounted an overwatch element.

Staff Sgt. Miller led the overwatch elements as the threat of imminent danger increased. The rocky, snow-packed terrain, freezing temperatures and a fierce wind chill further exacerbated the ODA’s movement to the objective. The ODA’s only Pashto speaker, Staff Sgt. Miller took charge of the dismounted element and assembled partnered ANA forces to ensure they could move under cover.

Once ODA 3312 arrived at the target compound, Staff Sgt. Miller led the ANA and established security around the ODA’s ground mobility vehicles. After security was established, the team confirmed through the employment of an unmanned aerial vehicle that 15 to 20 insurgents were congregating and occupying prepared fighting positions in the targeted compound.

Maintaining his situational awareness, Staff Sgt. Miller immediately jumped into his vehicle’s turret and engaged the enemy with its mounted MK19 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

From his vantage point in the turret of his vehicle, Staff Sgt. Miller expertly described the engagement area to the joint tactical air controller and identified insurgent positions by engaging them with his MK19.

As a result of his superior tactical skills, he positively marked the enemy while simultaneously describing the area to the JTAC. Without his expert marksmanship and accurate description of the area, the JTAC would not have been able to provide accurate grid locations for close air support.

As noted by the team’s JTAC, Staff Sgt. Miller’s involvement in the employment of CAS was largely responsible for the accuracy of four 30mm strafe runs and the emplacement of three precision-guided GBU38 munitions on the objective. As a result of his efforts, two A-10 Warthogs and two F-15 Strike Eagles dealt lethal effects onto numerous enemy positions and disrupted their ability to maneuver.

As Staff Sgt. Miller continued to neutralize numerous insurgent positions, his MK19 sustained a catastrophic malfunction, which eliminated it for the duration of the battle. Without hesitation, Staff Sgt. Miller quickly transitioned from the MK19 to an M240B machine gun mounted on the rear of his vehicle and continued to effectively engage the enemy.

Understanding the peril of the battle and the composition of his force, Staff Sgt. Miller moved from his firing position and began emplacing ANA soldiers in positions to provide overwatch, detect movement from the high ground, observe the rear of the patrol and provide security to the flank of the ground assault. His actions provided security for his team and enabled them to maintain their focus on enemy targets. Once ample security was established, Staff Sgt. Miller re-engaged the enemy.

During a lull in fire, Staff Sgt. Miller dismounted his GMV a second time to repair a malfunctioning Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle.

Upon completion of the initial contact and CAS, the ODA commander directed a dismounted patrol to conduct battle damage assessment and a post-CAS strike assessment of the destroyed insurgent positions. Sensing the need to provide the ANA additional assistance, the ODA commander charged Staff Sgt. Miller with the responsibility to lead the partnered ANA force in an advisory role.

With the proficiency of an already-proven combat leader, Staff Sgt. Miller briefed the ANA platoon leadership on the scheme of maneuver onto the objective in their native Pashto language. Staff Sgt. Miller established rapport and instilled confidence in the ANA platoon leadership and its soldiers despite being partnered with the ANA platoon only 30 minutes prior to the mission.

Again, because of his tactical prowess, leadership and command of the Pashto language, Staff Sgt. Miller was selected as the point man for the dismounted patrol comprised of an Alpha and Bravo team from ODA 3312 and 15 ANA soldiers. He led the patrol with his M249 squad automatic weapon across the Gowardesh Bridge toward the target area.

During the movement, Staff Sgt. Miller continually reinforced proper patrolling techniques as well as repeatedly adjusted and corrected the ANA rate of speed. Realizing that the engagement area was located in the mouth of a small, extremely steep and narrow valley that created a natural choke point, Staff Sgt. Miller directed the ANA to disperse from a file into a modified wedge.

As Staff Sgt. Miller and the lead element of the patrol entered the mouth of the narrow valley, they confronted an insurgent hiding behind a large boulder. Refusing to surrender, the insurgent leaped from the boulder yelled, “Allah Akbar!” and began firing on the lead element from approximately five meters. Staff Sgt. Miller stepped forward to return fire and killed the insurgent instantly.

This contact initiated a near-ambush from a company-sized group of insurgents. The insurgent forces fired on Staff Sgt. Miller’s patrol with multiple PKM machine guns, RPGs, and AK-47 assault rifles from distances of less than 25 meters.

The patrol was completely vulnerable, in the kill zone and without cover in a complex ambush with insurgent fighting positions located to the front (East), the left (North), and the right (South).

It soon became evident that numerous insurgents occupied prepared, elevated and hardened fighting positions in the mountain rock with overhead cover along the North and South valley ridgeline. Insurgents on the valley floor to Staff Sgt. Miller’s direct front, left, and right were fighting in defilade and possessed ample cover and concealment necessary for the employment of overwhelming fires on the totally exposed patrol.

As enemy fire erupted from the high ground, Staff Sgt. Miller called out the contact report to his team members and his detachment commander located behind him. He simultaneously engaged multiple insurgent positions from a distance of approximately 15 to 20 meters.

In the face of devastating insurgent fire, the ANA located directly behind Staff Sgt. Miller broke formation and bound away downhill and out of the kill zone, leaving Staff Sgt. Miller alone and with no support in the open terrain.

To the front of Staff Sgt. Miller’s position one PKM machine gun and five AK47s were inflicting devastating hostile fire on the retreating ANA members and the remaining ODA patrol. Understanding the potential for catastrophe, Staff Sgt. Miller boldly charged the enemy and accurately engaged the entire force with his squad automatic weapon, thus eliminating the threat.

With heavy fire from insurgent forces from all sides of his position engulfing him, Staff Sgt. Miller continued to engage at least four other insurgent positions, killing or wounding at least 10 insurgents.

The darkness of the night and limited visibility made Staff Sgt. Miller’s weapon, also the most casualty producing, the greatest threat to the insurgent ambush. The highlighted muzzle flash and the distinct sound from his SAW instantly marked Staff Sgt. Miller as an easily identifiable target.

Cognizant that his vulnerability increased with every burst from his SAW, Staff Sgt. Miller continued to engage the enemy courageously drawing fire away from his team and onto his position. Within seconds, Staff Sgt. Miller began receiving a majority of the insurgents’ heavy volume of fire.

Realizing that his team was pinned down and unable to actively engage the enemy, Staff Sgt. Miller, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, continued to charge forward through the open area engaging multiple elevated insurgent positions and purposely drawing fire away from his trapped ODA members.

Staff Sgt. Miller’s cover fire was so accurate that it not only provided the necessary cover to save his team, it also suppressed the enemy to the right flank of the patrol, to the point where they could not reposition from that direction against the ODA for the duration of the engagement.

His actions single-handedly provided the needed cover fire that allowed his fellow ODA members to maneuver to covered positions as the ANA broke formation and ran away from the kill zone.

During his final charge forward, Staff Sgt. Miller threw two hand grenades into fighting positions, destroying the positions and killing or wounding an additional four insurgents. Only when Staff Sgt. Miller realized his fellow team members were out of immediate danger, and in positions to support him, did he attempt to move for cover.

As he directed his fire to engage enemy positions above him, an insurgent shot him through the right side of his upper torso under his right arm; the area not protected by his body armor. Staff Sgt. Miller immediately turned toward the enemy and shot and killed the insurgent who had wounded him. During this time, Staff Sgt. Miller’s detachment commander also sustained gunshot wounds to his upper chest and shoulder.

The perilous situation forced the detachment commander to order the ODA to fall back to cover. Staff Sgt. Miller realized his commander was seriously wounded and that, as the point man with ODA’s only SAW, he had the highest potential to inflict the most casualties on the enemy. Again, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Staff Sgt. Miller remained alone at the front of the patrol, so his team could bound back.

Ignoring the severity of his critical wound and still completely exposed to intense, direct enemy fire, Staff Sgt. Miller continued to low crawl through the snow, incessantly fighting uphill into the valley to engage insurgent positions to the East and South in order to draw fire away from his wounded commander and identify insurgent positions to his fellow ODA members.

Without his heroic efforts, his wounded commander would not have been moved safely out of the kill zone to the casualty collection point.

Throughout the engagement, the insurgent fire around Staff Sgt. Miller was so intense that his fellow team members could not see him due to the dust, debris, and RPG and small arms fire impacting around him. During the ensuing 25-minute battle, Staff Sgt. Miller was mortally wounded by a second gunshot to his upper torso under his left arm. Despite suffering a second and fatal wound, Staff Sgt. Miller remained steadfast and continued his selfless acts of heroism. He provided essential disposition and location reports of insurgent actions and he relentlessly fired his SAW until he expended all of his ammunition and threw his final hand grenade.

At the first opportunity, members of Staff Sgt. Miller’s team bound up to his position to render aid and recover him. Enemy reinforcements overwhelmed the recovery team with direct fire causing the team to seek cover. During the recovery attempt, the enemy’s precision was clearly evident as team members sustained multiple hits from small arms fire to their body armor and equipment.

Approximately an hour and 45 minutes later, a quick reaction force arrived, which allowed the ODA to lead a patrol back into the valley to recover Staff Sgt. Miller. As a testament of the enemy’s tenacity, the quick reaction force sent to assist with recovery operations sustained additional casualties from intense direct RPG and small arms fire. Because of the enemy’s dominance of the terrain and potential for loss of additional lives, the patrol was forced to use its second CCP and two MEDVACs.

The entire battle lasted nearly seven hours.

Post-battle intelligence reports indicate that in excess of 140 insurgents participated in the ambush, more than 40 were killed and over 60 were wounded. Staff Sgt. Miller is credited with killing more than 16 and wounding over 30 insurgents. His valor under fire from a numerically superior force, complete selflessness and disregard for his own life, combined with his unmatched ability to accurately identify and engage insurgent positions, allowed his patrol to move to the safety of covered positions.

Staff Sgt. Miller chose to remain in the fight and provide vital suppressive fires to his teammates in order to save their lives, while disregarding his own mortality.

Staff Sgt. Miller’s selfless acts saved the lives of his seven of his ODA members and 15 Afghan soldiers. As a result of Staff Sgt. Miller’s heroic actions, the Gowardesh Insurgency was dealt a crippling blow, decimating insurgent forces involved in the battle, and shattering their morale and confidence. Staff Sgt. Miller’s actions exemplify the honored tradition of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Special Operations Task Force–33, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and the U.S. Army.

Medal of Honor to be awarded to Family of Jared Monti Today

Well today is the day that the President will award the Medal of Honor to the family of Jared Monti today. SFC Monti performed his actions in 2006, which is when I was in Afghanistan. Even though this took three years, I am glad to see it finally come to fruition. This is the first Medal of Honor to be awarded by President Obama, and the first one to a Army soldier for actions in Afghanistan.

 

Official Narrative

 

In June of 2006, the 3rd Squadron of the 71st Cavalry Regiment (Recon), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, prepared to execute Operation Gowardesh Thrust, a Squadron size operation in the Gremen Valley, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

The operation was designed to disrupt enemy operations in the Gremen Valley by denying the enemy freedom of movement and the use of critical staging areas near the border with Pakistan. The initial phase of the operation required a 16-man patrol to infiltrate into the area of operations in advance of the Squadron’s main effort.

The patrol, consisting of snipers, forward observers and scouts, would maneuver north along a high ridgeline overlooking the Gremen Valley. From the high ground of the ridge, the patrol would provide real-time intelligence and help direct fires against enemy forces attempting to oppose the Squadron’s main effort.

On the evening of June 17, 2006, a convoy transported the patrol to a pre-established mortar firing position south of the village of Baz-Gal near the Gowardesh Bridge. The following morning, the patrol infiltrated on foot from the mortar firing position into their area of operation. For three days, the patrol moved north up the ridgeline through rugged mountain terrain. Due to the difficulty of the climb and temperatures near 100 degrees, the patrol moved mostly at night or in the early morning hours; stopping during the heat of the day to observe the valley below.

On June 20, 2006, the patrol leaders, Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti, halted the patrol on the ridgeline of Mountain 2610, approximately 5 kilometers northwest of the village of Gowardesh. With an elevation of over 2600 meters, Mountain 2610 commanded a view of several enemy known areas of interest, including insurgent safe houses and the summer residence of Hadji Usman, an HIG commander, who was a vetted Combined Joint Task Force 76 insurgent target.

Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Monti selected a flat area on top of the ridge approximately 50 meters long and 20 meters wide, with a trail running along the eastern edge. At the southern end of the position, there were several large rocks, a portion of an old stone wall and a few small trees. The terrain sloped gradually upward to the north. At the northern end of the patrol’s position there was a line of dense vegetation composed of trees, heavy brush and smaller rocks. In between the large rocks to the south and the tree line to the north was a clearing approximately 40-50 meters in length. The terrain dropped off steeply on the eastern and western sides of the position. The rocks and trees around the position provided concealment and protection for the patrol as they observed the valley more than 1,000 meters below.

The patrol spent the night of June 20, 2006, observing from their position on Mountain 2610. The following morning the patrol was dangerously low on both food and water. A re-supply mission was scheduled for that day. The re-supply was originally coordinated to occur in conjunction with the Squadron’s main effort, which included a large air assault into the Gremen Valley. The heavy helicopter traffic associated with the air assault mission would have provided distraction for the re-supply; reducing the risk that the drop would compromise the patrol’s position. However, on the morning of June 21, 2006, Monti and Cunningham learned that the Squadron operation had been pushed back until June 24, 2006. The delay extended the patrol’s mission by several days, making re-supply critical; however, the absence of other aerial traffic increased the risk that the re-supply would compromise the patrol. Because of the critical shortage of water, it was determined that the re-supply would go forward as planned despite the risk of compromise.

The drop zone was located approximately 150 meters from the patrol’s position. Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Monti brought the majority of their patrol to the re-supply drop zone to provide security and to transport the supplies back to the patrol’s position. A smaller group remained at the observation position to provide security and to continue to survey the valley below. At approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, a UH-60 Black Hawk delivered food and water to the patrol. The patrol secured the supplies and began transporting them back to their observation position.

Spc. Max Noble, the patrol’s medic, was one of the Soldiers who remained at the observation position while the majority of the patrol picked up the re-supply. Spc. Noble was using a spotting scope to look down into the valley. Prior to the patrol’s return from the re-supply drop, Noble observed a local national male in the valley using military style binoculars to look up towards at the patrol’s position. Spc. Noble informed Cunningham and Monti as soon as they returned. They watched the man observing the patrol’s position for several minutes before he picked up a bag and walked away.

As dusk approached, the patrol established a security perimeter around their position and scheduled guard rotations. The patrol members then divided up the supplies and prepared for the night. Staff Sgt. Cunningham, Staff Sgt. Monti, and Sgt. John R. Hawes sat behind one of the large rocks at the southern end of the patrol’s position and discussing courses of action in the event that their position had likely been compromised. Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, Pfc. Mark James, Pvt. Sean J. Smith, Spc. Matthew P. Chambers, Spc. Shawn M. Heistand, and Spc. Franklin L. Woods were at the northern end of the position, near the wood line. Sgt. Chris J. Grzecki, Spc. Noble, and Spc. John H. Garner were along the trail on the eastern edge of the position using spotting scopes to monitor the valley below.

At approximately, 6:45 in the evening, Spc. Woods heard the shuffling of feet in the wood line immediately to the north. Before he could react, the patrol’s position was hit by a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), medium machine gun (PK) fire, and small-arms fire from the wood line. An enemy force of approximately 50 fighters was moving in under cover from two support-by-fire positions above the patrol to the north and northwest. Members of the patrol could hear enemy fighters giving commands as they moved through the wood line at the northern end of the patrol’s position.

At the time of the attack, the six patrol members at the northern end of the patrol’s position immediately dove for cover as the enemy opened fire. The attack came so quickly and with such ferocity, that many of the patrol members at the northern end of the position were unable to maneuver to get to their weapons. Others had their weapons literally shot out of their hands by the intense fire.

Spc. Heistand and Pfc. Bradbury were both near the wood line when the enemy opened fire. Heistand was armed with an assault rifle and Bradbury was a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner. Both hit the ground and began to return fire. However, they soon realized that their fire was drawing the enemies’ attention to their dangerously exposed position in the open area near the wood line. Spc. Heistand told Pfc. Bradbury that they had to fall back to the south where the large rocks would provide better cover. Spc. Heistand then jumped up and sprinted back towards the large rocks at the southern end of the position. Pfc. Bradbury was directly behind Spc. Heistand as they headed for the rocks, however, Pfc. Bradbury did not make it back to the rocks.

Pfc. James, Spc. Chambers, Spc. Woods, and Pvt. Smith were also in the area near the wood line when the enemy attacked. They also fell quickly back towards the large rocks to the south. Chambers, Woods, and Smith successfully made it to cover without injury; however, Pfc. James was hit by small arms fire in the back and wrist as he ran for cover to the south. Although wounded, Pfc. James was able to crawl back towards the rest of the patrol on the southern end of the position. As soon as he was close enough, other members of the patrol grabbed James and drug him to better cover behind the rocks. Spc. Chambers, who lost his weapon in the initial volley, then took Pfc. James to a safe position further back from the rocks and administered first aid.

From behind the rocks at the southern end of the patrol’s position, Staff Sgt. Monti, Staff Sgt. Cunningham, and Sgt. Hawes returned fire, attempting to cover for the patrol members falling back from the north. However, the intensity of the enemy small arms fire and frequent volleys of RPGs made it dangerous for the patrol members to expose themselves in order to accurately aim their return fire.

Sgt. Patrick L. Lybert was in a prone position beside the small stone wall which was slightly out in front of the larger rocks at the southern end of the patrol’s position. Although his position did not provide complete cover, it did provide the best vantage to place accurate fire on the enemy. From his position, Sgt. Lybert used aimed shots and controlled bursts to effectively slow the approaching enemy while other members of the patrol consolidated their position behind the rocks at the southern end of the position.

As the patrol fell back behind the large rocks, Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Staff Sgt. Monti took charge of the defense. They quickly set up a perimeter, posting Soldiers to guard potential approaches on their flanks. They directed return fire and cautioned their Soldiers to control their fires to conserve ammunition. Staff Sgt. Monti grabbed his radio handset and cleared the network to call for fire. He calmly informed headquarters that the patrol was under attack, heavily outnumbered, and at risk of being overrun.

Staff Sgt. Monti provided accurate grid coordinates of the enemy’s current positions and likely avenues of approach as RPGs skipped off of the rock above his head. Due to the proximity of the enemy forces, Staff Sgt. Monti’s call for fire was ‘danger close.’

While Monti was calling in the fire support mission, Staff Sgt. Cunningham moved along the rocks towards the eastern edge of the patrol’s position to take charge of the defense at that end of the position. Sgt. Hawes remained on the western side of the position to defend the western approach and to provide cover for Monti as he worked the radio calling for indirect fire. Sgt. Lybert was still out in front of the larger rocks returning fire from behind the stone wall. At some point, members of the patrol saw Lybert’s head slump forward and blood began to pour from his ears. Members of the patrol called out to Sgt. Lybert, but he did not respond. Spc. Noble, the patrol’s medic was on the western side of the position, near Sgt. Lybert, but was unable to get to Lybert to provide treatment due to the volume of enemy fire. However, Spc. Daniel B. Linnihan crawled out just far enough to grab Sgt. Lybert’s weapon and drag it back behind the rocks for use by the members of the patrol.

The enemy used support by fire positions to fix the patrol as they split into two groups to flank the patrol from the east and west. One group of approximately 15 fighters moved through the wood line towards the patrol’s western flank while a smaller group maneuvered across the trail to attempt to flank the eastern side of the position. The patrol members on either end of the position redirected their fires to protect their flanks. Patrol members with weapons traded off with unarmed members to ensure that the Soldier in the best position had a weapon to defeat the flanking maneuver. Pvt. Smith was along the trail on the eastern edge of the patrol’s position. From a covered position he killed several enemy fighters attempting to move up the trail to flank the patrol.

While still communicating with the Squadron headquarters, Staff Sgt. Monti periodically dropped the handset to engage the enemy with his rifle. At one point, he noticed a group of fighters closing in on the western flank and disrupted their attack with several bursts from his M-4. As the enemy closed within ten meters of the patrol’s defensive perimeter, Monti threw a grenade into their path. Although the grenade was inert, it’s presence disrupted the enemy advance and caused them to scatter and fall back, denying the enemy a position on the patrol’s flank. Staff Sgt. Monti then went back to the radio and continued to call for fire.

At this time, the initial volley of mortar fire began to fall on the advancing enemy, driving them back to a wood line north of the patrol’s position. The mortar firing position asked Staff Sgt. Monti to adjust the incoming rounds, however, the enemy fire from the wood line was so extreme that Monti was unable to even raise his head up to observe the incoming rounds.

As the enemy was driven back into the wood line, Staff Sgt. Monti and Staff Sgt. Cunningham took accountability of their Soldiers. They quickly realized that one Soldier, Pfc. Bradbury, was unaccounted for. Monti called for Bradbury several times and received no response. Finally, over the din of near constant enemy fire, they heard Pfc. Bradbury weakly reply that he was badly injured and unable to move.

Pfc. Bradbury, who was a SAW gunner on Staff Sgt. Monti’s team, lay severely wounded in a shallow depression approximately 20 meters in front of the patrol. The shallow depression prevented the patrol from actually seeing Bradbury, but it also protected him from enemy view. Other than the shallow depression, there was no other substantial cover near the wounded Soldier. The enemy in the wood line was as close as 30 meters on the other side of Pfc. Bradbury.

Staff Sgt. Monti recognized that Pfc. Bradbury was not only exposed to enemy fire, but also to the incoming indirect fire. He called out to Bradbury to reassure him that he would be alright and that they were coming to get him. Staff Sgt. Cunningham yelled across the rocks to Monti, that he would go for Pfc. Bradbury. However, Monti insisted that Bradbury was his Soldier and that he would go and get him.

Staff Sgt. Monti then handed the radio handset to Sgt. Grzecki and said, “you are now Chaos three-five,” which was Monti’s call sign. After tightening down his chin strap, Staff Sgt. Monti, without hesitation or concern for his own safety, moved out from behind the protection of the large rocks into the open, and into the face of enemy fire.

The wood line immediately erupted as dozens of enemy fighters focused their fire on Staff Sgt. Monti running towards his wounded Soldier. Patrol members reported hearing the distinct report of PK machine guns as soon as Monti left the protection of the rocks. Moving low and fast, Monti approached to within a few meters of Bradbury before heavy enemy fire forced him to move back and dive behind the small stone wall where Sgt. Lybert was located.

After pausing briefly to verify that Sgt. Lybert was dead, Staff Sgt. Monti again rose from his covered position and again moved out into a wall of enemy fire in his second attempt to save Pfc. Bradbury. This time, the fire was even more intense and Monti only made it a few steps before a volley of small arms fire and RPGs drove him back behind cover of the stone wall.

Unwilling to leave his Soldier wounded and exposed, Staff Sgt. Monti prepared to make a third attempt to get to the wounded Pfc. Bradbury. This time, Monti yelled back to the patrol members behind the rocks that he needed more cover fire. He coordinated with Sgt. Hawes to fire 40mm grenades from his M203 launcher onto the enemy position, while other members of the patrol would provide cover fire. Timing his movement to the sound of the exploding 40mm rounds, Staff Sgt. Monti, for a third time, rose from his covered position and moved into the open, knowing he again would be the focus of the enemy fire.

On his third attempt, Staff Sgt. Monti took several lunging steps through withering fire towards his wounded Soldier before an RPG exploded in his path. Before he could reach cover, Monti fell mortally wounded only a few meters from Pfc. Bradbury. Staff Sgt. Monti attempted to crawl back towards the stone wall, but was unable to move far due to the severity of his wounds. The patrol called out to Staff Sgt. Monti and tried to encourage him to remain conscious. Monti spoke briefly with the members of the patrol, telling them that he had made his peace with God. He then asked Staff Sgt. Cunningham to tell his parents that he loved them. Shortly thereafter, he fell silent.

By this time it was getting dark and the incoming mortar and howitzer rounds were falling with accuracy on the enemy position. Close air support was on station and the aviators dropped several 500lb bombs as well as two 2000lb bombs with direction from Sgt. Grzecki. The patrol members redoubled their efforts to beat back the superior enemy force. Under the weight of the accurate indirect fire, the enemy effort began to slacken.

As the enemy fire slowed, Sgt. Hawes low-crawled out from behind the rocks and made his way to Sgt. Lybert’s body. He took Sgt. Lybert’s ammunition and handed it back to one of the Soldiers fighting behind the rock. He then moved out to Staff Sgt. Monti’s body and confirmed that Monti had been killed while attempting to save Pfc. Bradbury. Sgt. Hawes took Monti’s weapon and ammunition and passed them back to the patrol.

Staff Sgt. Cunningham and Pfc. Smith then moved up along the trail to the east and made their way towards Pfc. Bradbury. They found Bradbury approximately 20 meters in front of the rocks. Pfc. Bradbury was alive, and although seriously wounded, he was able to communicate. Pfc. Bradbury reported that there were approximately 40 enemy fighters in the wooded area to the north. He was able to hear them talking and giving commands during the engagement.

It was completely dark by the time Staff Sgt. Cunningham brought Pfc. Bradbury back behind the rock so he could be treated by Spc. Noble.

The patrol remained in their position for the rest of the night. The next morning, they assessed the enemy position and found several blood trails and a bloody shoe, but no bodies. Later estimates put the enemy death toll at 15-20. The patrol moved on that day and made their way off of the mountain on foot.

Staff Sgt. Monti was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class on June 22, 2006.

 

http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/monti/index.html