History Mighty Heroes

MoH Monday: Michael A. Monsoor

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Michael A. Monsoor

In an undated file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor participates in a patrol in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Michael Anthony Monsoor was a United States Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On September 29, 2006, Monsoor threw himself on a grenade to protect his fellow SEALs, sacrificing his own life to save theirs. His bravery and selflessness saved the lives of his teammates, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2008. Monsoor is remembered as a true hero and patriot, and his name is inscribed on the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Monsoor was born on April 5, 1981. He grew up in Long Beach, California. His Marine father instilled a love for the ocean in him at an early age. To overcome his asthma, Monsoor started swimming to strengthen his lungs. He eventually became more athletic and played high school football.

After joining the U.S. Navy in March of 2001, Monsoor completed Basic Training at Naval Station Great Lakes. He excelled in Master at Arms Training and Underwater Demolition Training, finishing at the top of his class. He completed parachute and cold-weather combat training to achieve his goal of becoming a SEAL. In March of 2005, he joined Delta Platoon, SEAL Team 3.

Michael A. Monsoor during training
An undated file photo provided of U.S. Navy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor.

Medal of Honor of Action

During the Battle of Ramadi, the U.S. and its allies fought to seize control of the city from al Qaeda, who had taken over and declared it the capital of the Islamic State in Iraq. Michael Monsoor and his fellow SEALs were deployed to train Iraq’s army in defense. But on September 9, 2006, they found themselves in a firefight with enemy snipers. They suppressed the initial attack, but the danger was far from over.

Monsoor knew they needed a better vantage point to spot the insurgents, so he moved to a rooftop location. But the SEALs were unwelcome in the city, and locals broadcasted their location to the enemy. Suddenly, an enemy combatant tossed a grenade onto the roof. Monsoor immediately spotted it and, without hesitation, threw himself onto the grenade to shield his unit members from the blast.

The grenade detonated underneath him, and he sustained fatal injuries. Monsoor died half an hour later, but his heroic action saved the lives of his fellow service members. Monsoor’s sacrifice is a reminder of the dangers of combat and the selflessness required of those who serve their country. 

Award Ceremony

During the special ceremony at the White House on April 8, 2008, President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Monsoor’s parents. The President spoke of Monsoor’s bravery, saying he “represented the best of a generation that has served with distinction in this long war.” Monsoor’s actions on that rooftop in Ramadi were not just heroic; they were selfless.

Monsoor could have run for cover or tried to throw it away when he saw the grenade. But instead, he chose to throw himself onto it, sacrificing his own life to save those around him. His quick and decisive action prevented a much larger tragedy from occurring. The grenade detonated underneath him, and he absorbed the full force of the explosion. His fellow SEALs were injured but survived because of Monsoor’s actions.

Today, Michael Monsoor’s name is etched in the annals of American military history as a true hero. His actions on that rooftop in Ramadi exemplify selflessness and courage for future generations of service members to follow.