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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Navy Seal’s Story Worth Remembering

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is a military cemetery in San Diego, Calif. (Alex Ashlock)In September 2006, Navy Seal Michael Monsoor fell on a grenade to save the lives of two of his teammates and eight Iraqi soldiers. He died a few minutes later. (Alex Ashlock)Navy Seal Michael Monsoor's grave is pictured in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. (Alex Ashlock)

When he was in San Diego last week, Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock visited the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. He spent some time at the grave of Navy Seal Michael Monsoor, who was killed in the war in Iraq in 2006. Ashlock says Monsoor’s story is worth remembering as violence erupts again in Iraq.




And we just heard Andrew Slater say the focus should be on the current crisis in Iraq and not the old arguments about the war itself. But HERE AND NOW's Alex Ashlock has this reminder of that war's cost.

ALEX ASHLOCK, BYLINE: When I was in San Diego last week, I went to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. It's a beautiful place. The cemetery sits near the tip of Point Loma, which curves off the California coast like a finger, the harbor to the East, the Pacific Ocean to the West. More than 100,000 graves line the green hillsides in neat rows there. One of them belongs to Michael Monsoor. And his story offers some perspective on the long war in Iraq and the chaos there today. Monsoor was a Navy SEAL deployed to Iraq in April 2006. According to his official Navy biography, he served as a machine gunner on combat patrols. Monsoor and his platoon fought in Ramadi, a city about 70 miles West of Baghdad. He earned a Silver Star when he rescued another SEAL who had been wounded on one of the city streets. Then on the September 29, 2006, Monsoor was with a team of SEALs and eight Iraqi soldiers, on a rooftop in Ramadi. An insurgent threw a grenade into their position. Their grenade hit him in the chest before it fell to the ground. Monsoor was close to the only exit from that rooftop. But instead of fleeing, he fell on the grenade and took the blast himself. He saved the lives of two of his SEAL teammates and all of the Iraqi soldiers when he did that. But he died from his wounds a few minutes later. For his action that day he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His parents, George and Sally, accepted the metal from President George W. Bush. Michael Monsoor is buried in section U, grave 412-E at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. During his funeral, Monsoor's fellow Navy SEAL's embedded their gold Trident badges, the symbol of the SEALs, into his wooden casket. The sound they made as they pounded those badges into the casket echoed across the cemetery that day. When I was there last week, there was only the sound of the wind and someone had left their Triton on top of his gravestone.

YOUNG: HERE AND NOW's Alex Ashlock. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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