Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sgt. Jared Monti, died a hero in Afghanistan, lived like a hero back home

Medal of Honor recipient remembered as a selfless friend
Story Highlights
Sgt. Jared Monti was posthumously awarded Medal of Honor on Thursday

Monti died in 2006 in Afghanistan trying to save young private who was wounded

In his last moments, Monti asked his comrades to tell his family he loved them

The private that Monti tried to save died after cable to rescue helicopter snapped

By Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

RAYNHAM, Massachusetts (CNN) -- It's a crisp New England day and Paul Monti is sitting in the backyard garden he built to honor the memory of his son, sipping coffee from his favorite Boston Red Sox mug, and nursing what he calls a "morning cigar."

These are daily rituals that help him deal with his son's death three years ago, while serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

"I come out here and sit on the bench and sit in the flowers," says Monti, a retired schoolteacher. "This is where I get my solitude."

And that's when the stories start pouring out of this proud dad, stories about how Sgt. Jared Monti -- who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama on Thursday -- always had the instinct to help other people.

There was the time that Jared was in high school and came home, to this house with the American flags flying on the porch, and asked his dad if he could cut down one of the spruce trees in the front yard. A single mom down the street in this tiny town outside Boston couldn't afford a Christmas tree, and Jared wanted to take care of her family for the holidays.

Or the time that Jared was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and chipped in with a roommate on a $500 dining set for their apartment off base. One day the roommate came home and was infuriated to find the furniture missing.

"He said, 'Jared, where's the kitchen set?' " recalls the dad. "Jared said, ' Well, I was at one of my soldiers' houses today and his kids were eating on the floor and they needed the kitchen set more than we did. So we're going to have to find another place to play quarters.' So that's the kind of thing he did."
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