Portrait of Valor: Hero of Afghanistan Sgt. Jared Monti Wins Medal of Honor Posthumously

"There was so much machine gun fire that trees were being split by the bullets all around us and the branches were catching shrapnel like catchers mitts," he said.

In the midst of the firefight, while calling for air support and firing his own weapon, Monti realized one of his soldiers was wounded in the area between the advancing Taliban fighters and his squad.

"With complete disregard for his own safety," an Army report notes, three times Monti ran into oncoming fire in an attempt to rescue the soldier, Pvt. Brian Bradbury.

On the third attempt, he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade that blasted his legs and killed him.

"It's normal for a guy to go out there and try to rescue someone once. But to go again is unheard of," said Cunningham. "To go a third time -- either you're getting him or there's no coming back. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen ever."

Bradbury, severely injured and unable to move, was eventually reached by medics in a helicopter, but the winch broke and he fell to his death.

Early Signs of Selflessness and Service

For the Army, Monti's bravery is a story of martial heroism.

For some observers, like author John Krakauer, who was embedded with Monti's squad for five weeks, his death is also an example of a needless military screw-up that left Monti's crew stranded on the mountain for three days, and a lack of helicopter support in Afghanistan at the time. In 2006, much of the war effort had been diverted to Iraq.

For his parents, Monti's death is painfully sad. They are proud of their son, but hesitant that his death will be misconstrued and unnecessarily politicized.

But while his death came as a shock to his family, his selflessness was not a surprise.

Medal of Honor Winner Was No Rambo

Jared Monti was born in Abington, Mass., on Sept. 20, 1975. He grew up in Raynham, a small town outside of Boston. His father was a teacher and his mother a nurse.

"I don't want him remembered as GI Joe or Rambo, just hell-bent on killing the enemy. That's not him at all. He was a humanitarian. Everywhere he went he left people feeling respected no matter what their status," said his father Paul.

Even as a boy, Paul said, Monti was generous and selfless, always looking to help and rarely looking for credit.

As a teenager he asked permission to cut down a spruce tree in his family's yard. Paul figured he was going to put it up at school, but instead Monti gave it to a single mother who couldn't afford a Christmas tree.

There were other hidden accolades. Stowed in the back of a closet, after Monti died, Paul found a three-foot trophy his son won at the New England weightlifting championship during his senior year of high school.

"I was totally in shock when I found that. I had no idea he had won a Northeast championship. I drove him to the competition. I remember he came home and said 'it went fine' and gave a shrug," said Paul.

Similarly, Monti never boasted about his exploits on the battlefield.

"He didn't take pride in the fact that he had taken someone else's life," Paul said.

Krakauer, author of the new book "Where Men Win Glory," spent several weeks with Monti and his "kill team."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...