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A Medal of Honor Recipient Through The Eyes of His Father

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 13, 2023 3:03 am

A Medal of Honor Recipient Through The Eyes of His Father

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 13, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Paul Monti, father of Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti, tells his son's story.

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There wasn't a body of water too wide, too deep for him to cross. There were certain characteristics in him that became apparent as he grew. We like to talk about his life in terms of three principles that he lived by, the first of which was to always try your hardest, and this we noticed with him, whether it was sports or school or anything else that he had to do. He was a kid that always gave 100 percent to everything he did.

His second principle was to never give up, and that became also apparent. One of the stories I like to tell regarding that was he was a really, really good basketball player. He was pretty much the shortest kid in his class, but he was a heck of a basketball player. And when he went to middle school, he tried out for the JV team, and he was the last one cut from the team. His fellow players said they were all going to quit because Monty wasn't picked, and Jared got them together and talked to them and said, Hey, you don't quit. You guys keep going.

Don't worry about me. So that passed, and the next year, middle school, he tried out for the team again, and again he was the last cut. And then the third year, he tried out again, this time for the varsity. And the varsity coach came up to him and said, Jared, why don't you accept the position as team manager, and you can warm up with the team before games, but of course you can't play.

And he accepted that. After the second game, the coach found a uniform for him because it was kind of embarrassing. He was the only one in street clothes warming up. And then after the third game, the coach started using him as a mop-up player towards the end of a game. By the end of the season, he was outscoring some of the starters on the team. At his graduation from middle school, when they were giving out the awards for the basketball team, the coach got up and read all the names. Then when he got to the end, he said this last guy is the epitome of what an athlete should be, and he's the biggest mistake that I ever made in my 25 years of coaching basketball. What an honor to a young man, and what courage it took for him to do that, and to be that guy that never gave up, that kept on trying. What a character he must have had to do that kind of a thing. He always did the right thing.

No matter what it cost him personally, doing the right thing was just out of him. You know, one day when I came home and looked in his room, his bed was missing. And I called him and I said, Jared, where's your bed? He said, well, Dad, one of my friends was kicked out of his house. He's sleeping over someone else's house. They don't have a bed for him.

He's sleeping on the floor and he can't sleep. I don't mind sleeping on the floor, Dad, so I gave him my bed. Another incident, he came to me one day and said, Dad, would you mind if I cut down one of those spruce trees we have in the front of the house? I said, well, what do you want that for? He said, well, guys and I, we want to have our own Christmas tree. I said, well, okay, go ahead. And it was only after his death when one of his friends came up to me and said, Mr. Monty, you remember the Christmas tree Jared cut down?

And I said, yeah. He said, well, he didn't really cut that down for us. He found a single mom in town that had three kids and didn't have enough money to celebrate Christmas with the kids. So he brought it to her house and got lights for it and ornaments for it. He bought presents for all the kids and for the woman. And then he stayed and made Christmas dinner for them all and never told a soul.

It's it's these kinds of things that he did and with great humility. I remember a day when he asked me to drive him to a weightlifting competition. I did. I drove him there and I said, well, when do you want me to pick you up or do you want me to come in? He says, no, no, no, no, no.

I've got to ride home with somebody else. Now, after his death, I went up to clean his room and underneath his bed was a box full of trophies. He had soccer trophies and baseball trophies and basketball trophies. But what stood out was this three foot trophy that was under the bed of a weightlifter.

And I read the plaque and it said New England Weightlifting Championships, first place under 17 division. Jared Monti never told anybody. It wasn't being done for personal gain.

It was just this is something I want to do to, you know, for myself. And that's what he did. It just carried on throughout his life. And the culmination of all of that was on that day that that he died. And you're listening to Paul Monti tell the story of his fallen son. And my goodness, if you're a son and your dad speaks these words over you like this, you are one lucky man.

And if you're a dad who gets to speak these words about a son, you're one lucky father. When we come back, more of this remarkable story, this beautiful story, Father and Son Bond, A Fallen Soldier's Story, more of Paul Monti's story and Jared's here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

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Let's pick up where we last left off. Well, it was his junior year in high school. He came home and said, Dad, can I talk to you? I said, sure. He said, I want to join the Army, Dad. And I said, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I said, you know, you're an A student. You're going to go to college, son. He said, well, Dad, you can't afford to send me to college. And I said, well, you know, Jared, I'll just get another job. He said, Dad, you're already working two and three jobs.

Let me do this. I'll go in the Army and they'll pay for my college. What was I to say? You know, being only 17, I had to sign papers for him, and I did very reluctantly. But, you know, like I had said before, he was a very adventurous kid, and this really appealed to him, this idea of, you know, the adventure of the military and seeing the world. And he loved his country.

So there it was. It was made for him. He was a 13F, forward observer, what we used to call the Suicide Squad because they were always operating behind enemy lines. That bothered me, too.

I mean, like I said, we called it the Suicide Squad. But danger, dangerous things never bothered him. You know, he loved the roller coaster. He loved riding a motorcycle. That kind of thing didn't bother him. And especially in the military where he knew how important it was to saving lives. That's what he loved. He, a number of times, got himself into trouble in the military for that kind of a thing, of being a little more adventurous than some officer wanted him to be.

I remember an incident in South Korea where he had to take his platoon out on basically a war games maneuver. And they came to a stream, which was flowing really quickly. They were supposed to cross this stream. And when Jared saw the stream, he halted his guise and said, you know what, that doesn't look safe at all.

Let me go out and check it and make sure it's safe for all of us. Now, being a sergeant at that time, normally you would assign that to, you know, a private or someone. But Jared always led from the front. It was always, my boys, dad, my boys. He looked upon them as young people that he had to protect. It was his job to make sure his guys were safe. So he forded the stream, but he ended up getting washed downstream. They all thought he was dead.

But luckily enough, there was a floating branch in the water that he was able to cling to until they found him and took him out. But that's, again, it was always a matter of him taking the chances and not allowing his boys to be in the line of danger. That's just who he was.

It's just what he did. And yeah, he ended up being twice deployed to Afghanistan. Probably the most dangerous area in all of Afghanistan was this area in the Kuna Valley. This was the place where the Taliban would come in from Pakistan. This was their main route, and the army had decided that they were going to put a kibosh on this.

They had tried a number of times and were never successful, but they did put together this plan. So Jared with his platoon and Chris Cunningham, who was another sergeant, he was a sniper and he had his snipers. So there were 16 of them all together.

Eight of them were forward observers and eight snipers. And they were tasked to climb this mountain. The mountain was 8,500 feet high. To set up an observation post at the top of the mountain to view the crossing area down below in the valley.

So that they could call in fire when the main force, a day later, was to come into the valley. So in 100 degree heat, and all of these guys carrying packs of 70 plus pounds, climbing mostly at night. They climbed Hill 2610.

It took them two days to climb that. Now as an aside to that, the night before they left to make this climb, I got a call very early in the morning, got me out of bed. Get out of bed, I answered the phone, said hello, and I heard, Hi Pop, Happy Father's Day.

And I was like shocked that he would call me to wish me a Happy Father's Day. And at the end of that conversation, he said, Dad, I gotta go, we're leaving on a mission. And that's when they left to climb that mountain. It was hot, they were out of food, they were out of water, and the Army had made provisions to have an air drop for them. At the same time, they were going into the valley so that the helicopter dropping their provisions wouldn't be noticed. However, because one helicopter was down, needed repairs, the Army decided to postpone the attack into the valley for two days, which left the guys at the top without food and water. And the Army then decided to send in their supply helicopter anyway. The helicopter came in, it missed the drop point, and dropped the stuff way too near them, marking their position.

As the sun was setting on that day, they heard noises in the woods that surrounded this plateau about half the size of a football field. And at that point, all hell broke loose. Small arms fire, machine guns, RPGs started raining in on their position so badly that these guys couldn't pop their head up. One of them got his rifle shot out of his hands, another one was shot in the wrist and in the back. The trees surrounding them had no branches left on them, and Private Bradbury and another soldier who had been kind of at the point, they were in danger of being overrun. And so they decided to run back to the opposite end where there were some rocks they could hide behind. The one soldier made it, but Bradbury was hit, and he was down.

It's like being in the middle of a football field or a baseball field, totally devoid of any cover whatsoever, no rocks, no trees. And the enemy was still fighting at them. Jared called in for artillery, mortars, air support, danger close, which I think people understand that means the bombs are going to be dropping so close to you that if you're not down, the chances are you're going to be killed as well as the enemy. And after calling in the coordinates, that's when Jared handed off the radio to someone else. And that's when he tightened his chin strap and Chris Cunningham had said, I'm going out to get Bradbury.

Jared answered him back and said, no, he's my boy, I'm going to get him. When we come back, more of the remarkable story of Jared and Paul Monti as told by the father about a fallen son here on Our American Stories. Following last year's amazing turnout, the Black Effect Podcast Network and Nissan are helping HBCU scholars jumpstart their futures by throwing another Thrill of Possibility Summit. The Thrill of Possibility Summit is an opportunity to network with peers and professionals and gain career knowledge from leaders in the industries of science, technology, engineering, art and math, also known as STEAM. To kick it off, Nissan is giving 50 HBCU scholars who major in STEAM disciplines the opportunity for an all-expenses-paid trip to Nashville, Tennessee, this year's summit location. This is a remarkable opportunity to be mentored by some of auto, tech and podcasting's brightest minds, bringing together notable voices of the Black Effect Podcast Network featuring Charlamagne the God, John Hope Bryant and Debbie Brown, all brought to you by Nissan. Success is a journey.

You're in the driver's seat. To learn more about the Thrill of Possibility Summit, please visit www.blackeffect.com. At Boost Mobile, passion and determination fuel what it means to get after it.

That's why they built their offers keeping in mind those who go the extra mile. Boost Mobile is partnered with champions from across the nation to empower you with devices and services that won't break the bank. Join Boost Mobile and get after it. Boost Mobile is partnering with people you already know and love, like the artist J.C. Rivera, rapper, singer-songwriter Toosie and professional skateboarder and Olympic athlete Samaria Brevard to highlight their unique talents, inspiring journeys and how Boost Mobile helped them continue to get after it. Boost Mobile knows the importance of shining a spotlight on the neighborhood kids and showing up for the communities they are in. It's time to join Boost Mobile and get after it.

Switch to Boost Mobile today and get a free Samsung Galaxy A23 5G phone powered by America's largest 5G networks. New customers only. Tax is extra.

One device per line. 5G not available everywhere. Other restrictions apply. Check out the full offer details at BoostMobile.com.

Terms and conditions apply. It's hard to narrow it down to just a few things to love about the holidays. Want to know a little secret? The Home Depot has the holidays covered and that includes bigger and bolder holiday decor at amazing prices. From a perfectly lit tree to a wonderfully designed fireplace to some of the most fun decor ever, yard inflatables. Just like the Home Depot's nine foot Grinch stealing Christmas inflatable. Yes, nine feet of amazing. How amazing you ask? People will be driving by your house really slowly just to take a picture.

That's how amazing. And while a nine foot Grinch inflatable is stealing Christmas, you'll be stealing the show in your neighborhood and all for an amazing price. So get to the Home Depot this holiday season.

Your go to place to get holiday ready. Our American stories and the story of Sergeant First Class Jared Monti. When we last left off, Jared was surrounded by a group of 50 insurgents, outmanned and outgunned. And to add to the situation, a fellow soldier, Brian J. Bradbury, was down and exposed to enemy fire.

Jared decided he would expose himself to in order to save his private. Let's return to the story. He ran out to get Bradbury and he was driven back by the heavy enemy fire. There were at least 50 Taliban firing at them. And then he tried a second time and was driven back a second time.

And, you know, not being able to give up and wanting to do the right thing. Out he went the third time. That's when he was hit by the RPG and he was killed.

And that's that's what led up to him receiving the Medal of Honor. I haven't gotten through it. Next month will be 15 years. And I'm still stuck in it. No one should lose a child. It's not supposed to happen that way. The parents go first and the children grieve for them. I'll never forget that night, 9.45 p.m.

I'm sitting watching America's Got Talent. And my doorbell rang. And I saw two men come around the side of the house in uniform.

I knew immediately. You know, you answer the door and you get the government response. And we need to inform you that, you know, your son was killed in action. And from that moment on, you just you're off somewhere. I remember sitting down with them at the dining room table and having a stack of papers shoved in front of me.

And asked to sign this, sign this, sign this, and you just go through the motions. You don't want to believe what they're saying. You want to think that someone made a mistake. I was so I was so messed up.

I mean. His guys, they couldn't believe what happened. Monty was so revered to them that nothing could ever happen to him. To this day, they have the same feeling.

They all I don't think any of them have ever gotten over what happened. He wasn't just, you know, their sergeant. He was their friend. Yeah, I'm your boss and I'm going to, you know, guide you.

But I'm going to be your friend. Back in the States, every weekend, he would either be going to someone's house to help them put in a floor or he was having a barbecue for them. Or if there was a celebration for one of their children, he would be there. He took care of them as if they were and indeed they were his brothers. That's where my pride comes in, that he was such a good human being that I wonder if I'm even worthy to be called his father. It's really very, very difficult to understand that a person like this is related to you.

Never mind being your own son. I wasn't even expecting the truck. When they delivered all his stuff from his apartment in New York, the last thing that came off was his truck.

And I was like, wow. There was an empty bottle. Well, it wasn't quite empty on the floorboards. He liked his char so he always had a bottle with him to spit into.

That was in there. He had toothpaste in there. He had mouthwash. He had a toothbrush. He had, yeah, he had a little container of coins. He had, oh, Lord, just, you know, a guy's truck.

I mean, it's pretty much the same even now, 15 years later, as it was when he left. I never vacuumed it. It sure needs it, but I just don't want to remove his DNA.

I don't want that sucked up by a vacuum cleaner. So, yeah, it's a little messy, but it's him and he's with me when I drive it. I don't drive it as much as I used to. It was my everyday vehicle for a while, and then I realized that it had to be preserved.

I got another vehicle, but I still make sure I drive his truck whenever I can, at least once a week to get it out and running. Some people have said, you know, time heals all wounds. It doesn't.

It absolutely doesn't. I'm 15 years in, and it's almost like it happened yesterday. This is the way it is. The way my life is now, you know, there's a door in front of me with my son's name on it, and I'm expecting to be able to open that door and go and visit him and go to sports games with him and go fishing with him and just have him over my house for a barbecue to hold his kids, my grandkids, on my lap. That's what I expect when I open that door.

But when I actually reach out and open that door, it's just totally dark inside. There will be no barbecues in the backyard. There will be no Red Sox games. There will be no fishing trips.

There will be no grandkids. I know the Lord works in very mysterious ways, and I know that no matter who you are, when a loved one dies, you always have that question, why God? But I was actually able to answer that question. The whole thing that came about from my son's death, the fact that we now have a charity that places flags on every grave at the National Cemetery in porn, every Memorial Day and every Veterans Day, now placing 77,000 flags. The fact that we were able to give out $16,000 in scholarship money this year. The effect that Jared's had on so many people, especially young people, throughout the entire country, indeed in some cases the world. It seems to me that God looked down and he said, you know, Jared, you're doing a fabulous job on that planet, but if you come up here with me, you'll be able to do even more. And that's what he's been doing since he passed, even more. And a spectacular job by Monty, as always, and my goodness, what a piece of storytelling from Paul Monty.

I haven't gotten through it. No one should lose a child. The parent goes first. He wasn't just their sergeant, he said, he was their friend.

He was such a good human being. The story of Jared Monty, the story of Paul Monty, here on Our American Stories. Your teen will get assigned the top rated drivers. You will get peace of mind. Add your teen to your Uber account today. Available in select locations. See app for details. Crypto is like the financial system, but different.

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