I WILL ALWAYS PLACE THE MISSION FIRST
I WILL NEVER ACCEPT DEFEAT
I WILL NEVER QUIT
I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN COMRADE
Courtney Faith Vera of Lake Elsinore has been associated with the United States Armed Forces her entire life, first as a Marine Corp “brat” and now as a California Army National Guard spouse with children. She is currently the Family Readiness Group Leader for the 79th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and Bravo Company, 79th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and works to bring awareness to the public about military service men and women and their families. She joined our board in February of this year. Her husband Raymond says she’s a bundle of energy with a passion for helping troops and veterans.
She asked if we would be willing to hold a baby shower in SFC Monti’s life because of his love for children annually and when you read the story below you’ll know why were happy to oblige.
You should know that Faith knew Jared Monti and had met him right out of high school. He was friends with her friend stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, NC. She hadn’t thought about Monti in a long time when a soldier from Monti’s Team was now in her husband’s command and the MPOC (Military Point of Contact) for the company. She states, “He had a lot of hair when I knew him, these photos of him with a receding hair line and looking like he’s six foot tall are funny.” Jared wasn’t much taller than she is and she measures in at 5’2.
She fondly refers to SFC Jared C. Monti as “Robin Hood for Children” and if you ever are fortunate enough to speak with anyone that served with him or knew him, the explanation is self-explanatory and quite humorous. Courtney Faith Vera tells her story about SFC Jared C. Monti below in her words. The article can be found on the Lake Elsinore Patch Column that she writes as well.
Sergeant Garner from Bravo Company, 79th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and his Baby-to-Be’s mother headed to a Southern California hospital earlier this month for the birth of their first child, a son with a special name: Jack Monti Garner. Jack is special because he is named after Staff Sergeant Jared Monti, who lost his life while desperately trying to save a fellow soldier who lay wounded and helpless.
Staff Sergeant Monti’s legacy will live on forever. Not just through family and friends but through his namesake, Jack Monti Garner. Little Jack is the 4th namesake of SFC Jared C. Monti.
The tie between Sergeant Monti and Sergeant Garner, who is based in Escondido, can be traced back, but June 21, 2006 — a dreadful day on a mountain in Afghanistan — is what stands out.
Recalling that day, Sergeant Garner has said bullets and rockets whizzed by so close they ripped his weapon out of his hand. He used his body to shield radioman Sergeant Chris Grzecki as he called in air support.
Sergeant Garner and Sergeant Grzecki were two of 16 soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division who were supporting a much larger group 2,600 feet below them.
Suddenly, the 16 soldiers heard enemy fire lighting up trees above the ridge they were holding. Mortars were raining down and there was no visibility.
When the smoke began to clear, one could see Private First Class James lying on his stomach. He was seriously wounded.
Staff Sergeant Patrick Lybert was already dead.
An RPG had torn through Private Bradbury’s arm.
Sergeant Monti wasn’t giving up and he wasn’t going to allow his soldiers to either. He called in artillery and airstrikes, but Bradbury’s cries were getting weaker. His man was slipping away.
“That’s my guy. I am going to get him.”
He would not make it back. On his third attempt to save his soldier, Sergeant Monti fell into a hellacious storm of RPGs and bullets just feet away from Private First Class Bradbury.
Sergeant Monti’s last words: “I’ve made my peace with God. Tell my family that I love them.”
Finally, the remaining soldiers heard air support arrive and the Taliban force begin to retreat.
Staff Sergeant Cunningham and Private First Class Smith accounted for the soldiers, including Private First Class Bradbury. He was seriously wounded but alive and able to communicate. He was going to make it.
When the medical helicopter finally arrived, a stretcher was lowered down. With Staff Sergeant Heathe Craig, a medic, by his side, Private First Class James was placed on the stretcher and hoisted into the air to the helicopter.
Staff Sergeant Craig came back down for Private First Class Bradbury, who was going to survive and live the legacy of the heroic efforts of Staff Sergeant Monti on that mountain.
The two were being hoisted into the air, but what happened next was horrendous and unthinkable. There was a loud thump: The hoist on the stretcher snapped.
Staff Sergeant Craig and Private First Class Bradbury fell to their deaths.
There is no happy ending to this story. In September, President Barack Obama contacted Jared Monti’s father, Paul, to let him know his son was being posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class and would receive a Medal of Honor.
Sergeant First Class Monti was the sixth man to receive the Medal of Honor in the War on Terror and the first in Afghanistan. All were posthumous, until recently, but there is no comfort.
Paul Monti said, “I’d much rather have him than any medal.”
I know there are no words to express the gratitude to the Monti family, but they can take pride in knowing that a comrade thought so highly of their son that he named his first-born after him.
Learn more about Sergeant First Class Monti and the scholarship in his name at www.sfcjaredcmonti.org.