*MONSOOR, MICHAEL A.
Rank and Organization: Master-at-Arms, Navy, SEAL.
Place and date: Ar Ramadi, Iraq, 29 September 2006.
Entered service at: Garden Grove, CA.
Born: April 5th, 1981.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for naval special warfare task group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 29 September 2006.
As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi army sniper over-watch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position.
Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him.
Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
During Mike Monsoor's funeral in San Diego, as his coffin was being moved from the hearse to the grave site at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, SEALs were lined up on both sides of the pallbearers route forming a column of two's, with the coffin moving up the center. As Mike's coffin passed, each SEAL, having removed his gold Trident fro m his uniform, slapped it down embedding the Trident in the wooden coffin.
The slaps were audible from across the cemetery; by the time the coffin arrived grave side, it looked as though it had a gold inlay from all the Tridents pinned to it. This was a fitting send-off for a warrior hero.
Six Decades After WWII, a Silver Star
December 29, 2008
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
It came 64 years after the fact, but Robert Lee Aston now has one of the military's most important honors. Aston, a resident of Rapidan, Va., and former B-24 bomber navigator, received the Silver Star medal at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. In 1944, Aston's commanding officer, Col. John H. Gibson Sr., recommended him for the Silver Star, the third highest medal awarded for gallantry in combat.
Six decades later, when Aston inquired about the matter, the Air Force told him the recommendation papers had been lost. But Aston was able to get proof from his former commanding officer before he died, and from three other witnessing superior officers, that he should have received the Silver Star. It finally happened on Oct. 18 and, in a twist of fate, he was presented the medal from his commanding officer's son, John H. Gibson II, now an assistant secretary of the Air Force.
Aston served with the England-based 44th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force and completed 35 bombing missions. According to the award's citation, on Oct. 30, 1944, "during an individual bombing mission to a strategic target at Hamburg, Germany, despite severely adverse flying and navigational conditions over England and Germany, Aston lead his B-24 aircraft alone to the target area deep within enemy territory without other accompanying aircraft for protection. "Upon reaching the target area in heavy enemy flak, Aston persisted in bombing the primary target. Finding stray American aircraft disorganized and in confusion ... Aston exhibited gallantry and superb leadership by rallying, assembling and leading a group of 15 reorganized B-24 bombers to the target."Aston, who practices law, has lived in Rapidan for 47 years. He also maintains a home in Georgia.