KIA June 21, 2006
Operation Enduring Freedom
The 16-man patrol from the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team set out June 18, 2006, on a hellish three-day climb up a steep, un-navigated mountainside into enemy territory near Gowardesh. The team were members of Charlie Troop led by Sgt. Patrick Lybert and two groups from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop: the snipers led by Staff Sgt. Chris Cunningham, and the artillery team, known as forward observers, led by SFC Monti.
The troops were setting up over-watch for a larger operation in the valley 2,600 feet below. The main effort was delayed and the soldiers soon exhausted their food and water. A helicopter with fresh supplies, that normally would have come under the distraction of helicopters arriving with the larger operation, came in alone even though it “increased the risk that re-supply would compromise the patrol,” an Army report said. They divvied up the items and settled in for the night, aware the enemy might have them marked.
The men divided into two positions along the ridgeline, most of them in a line of trees and bushes at the northern end of the ridge, others, including Monti and SGT Cunningham, behind some large rocks and tree cover at the southern end. Suddenly, just before dusk, the place lit up with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire from the trees just above the ridge to the north. Most of the guys made it back to the main position. But as SPC Bradbury, 22, of St. Joseph, Missouri, ran, an RPG exploded and he fell over the ridge from his colleagues. They called out to him and kept him talking, but separated from the group by what the troops call “the death zone,” they could not reach him.
Monti, whose call sign was Chaos 35, was on the radio calling in artillery and airstrikes. But when Cunningham said he would go after Bradbury, Monti wouldn’t hear of it. “That’s my guy. I am going to get him,” Grzecki (a fellow soldier) recalled him saying. “That’s when he threw me the radio and said ‘Hey, you are Chaos 35 now.’ ”
Twice Monti tried to make the run, but gunfire pushed him back. The third time, with the men all laying down cover fire, he went for it, almost making it to Bradbury before he fell in a hail of RPGs and bullets. His scream was like nothing his men had heard before. Several of the men wondered briefly why he seemed to be joking around at a time like this. It took a few seconds for them to realize he had been hit. One of the last things he said was that he had made peace, Grzecki said. And to tell his family he loved them. “With complete disregard for his own safety, SFC Monti moved from behind the cover of rocks into the face of withering enemy fire,” his commendation says. “SFC Monti’s acts of heroism inspired the patrol to fight off the larger enemy force.”
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti was 30 years old from Raynham, Massachusetts
Original portrait presented to his father March 17, 2010 during a special memorial event held at the 69th Regiment Armory, New York, New York