Michael Monsoor

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Former CIA Director David Petraeus

by Norman Fulkerson

For many years, General. David Petraeus was the public face of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was seen as a battle-hardened veteran, a four-star general who enjoyed what many called a “storied career.” Thirty six year Marine Corps veteran General John Allen has a similarly illustrious career and was awaiting confirmation on his nomination to become Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Both of these warriors were seen as men of honor. This image has been crushed: first by the admittance of General Petraeus to an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell which has now wrecked his career and could destroy a 37- year marriage: then by the voluminous email exchanges, now being scrutinized for wrongdoing, between General Allen and what the media is labeling as Broadwell’s archrival, Jill Kelley.

Unanswered Questions
We now find ourselves standing in the glow of a giant media spotlight that is turning this story into juicy soap opera. Political pundits are raising reasonable suspicion that all this is merely a smokescreen to take attention off the Benghazi attack which left a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead and a lot of unanswered questions. Others still are raising national security concerns over whether or not General Petraeus shared classified information with his paramour. While these are valid concerns, there are others that those shining the spotlight have conveniently overlooked.>>

Thankfully there are many who question the morality of Paula Broadwell, a married woman and mother of two, being “embedded with the troops” which set the stage for this particular scandal. Sexual scandals, however, be they consensual or by way of assault and harassment, are lamentably becoming all too common in our modern military.

According to the Army’s own “Gold Book,” a report on wartime personnel stress made public by the Center for Military Readiness, sexual assaults have increased in all branches by 22 percent since 2007 and violent rape has doubled since 2006. This should naturally lead a person to recognize the obvious pitfalls of a mixed Armed Forces and the now hotly contested issue of women in combat. This is a blatant denial of man’s human frailty, a consequence of our fallen nature. Whereas we should be praying with renewed fervor for God to “lead us not into temptation,” we turn a blind eye towards the wrecking ball of social experimentation wreaking havoc on our military. One sad consequence is the disgrace which Mrs. Petraeus, Mrs. Allen and their families now have to endure.

General John Allen is considered by many to be a man of impeccable character.

A similar question has yet to be raised with the case of General Allen. There was mention early on that he could stand trial for adultery which is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This manual, the foundation for military law in the United States, also holds sodomy to be a crime, yet during the debates concerning repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” this manual was never mentioned. The so-called upholders of morality were initially holding Gen Allen’s feet to the fire for what, thankfully, is still considered unacceptable behavior (adultery), yet they gushingly embrace the unnatural vice of sodomy. Homosexuals are allowed to live side by side with the men of honor who still exist in our military. They are allowed to make a political statement–stringently denied other servicemen—by marching in homosexual parades in uniform. They kiss their same-sex lovers upon returning from oversees, and these flagrant violations against the UCMJ and basic morality are never mentioned.

Shattered Dreams
The biggest concern however is the deleterious effect such scandals have on Americans who yearn to see men of honor. There are many people, for example, who consider General John Allen to be a man of impeccable character. John Ullyot who served with him said he “was known as a warrior monk.” Is this a mere chimera?>

In a society which appreciates the value of honor, appropriate actions would have to been taken, but any disgrace would be kept discreet, not continually aired for all to see like the proverbial “dirty laundry.”>

At the writing of this article, General Allen has forcefully denied inappropriate behavior. We pray this is the case, but even if he is totally exonerated of wrong doing, his career just might be over. Worse yet, his image as a man of honor is irreparably smeared and there will be no New York Times’ article to sufficiently repair the damage done to him and those who loved what he represented, even if he is proven innocent. Those who had looked upon him with pride are left to pick up the pieces of the marvelous dream he embodied and hold their breath for fear that others might suddenly meet the same fate. Can a nation continue to exist without such dreams?>

Those in search of dreams and those who destroy them are much like the sons of Noah who survived God’s punishing deluge. The noble prophet had unintentionally become intoxicated with wine and was reduced to a state of disorientation. Scripture describe how two of his sons preserved their father’s dignity by walking backwards with a cloak to cover his nakedness. Such was their appreciation for what their father represented. The other son took an entirely different attitude, laughed at his father’s drunken state and was subsequently cursed.>

One cannot help but see a parallel to the scandals that are unfolding before us. While we cannot compare the central figures in this drama to a man of Noah’s stature, we can identify the two opposing attitudes of his sons with two types of Americans and how they see our military. There are those who love the military and cannot help but admire its member’s daily sacrifices and heroic service. They recognize that we sleep comfortably at night because our brave servicemen faithfully stand watch. There are others, however, who seem to take joy in finding examples of dishonor and deserve the same punishment meted out to the bad son of Noah.

"Ship of Honor"

The Ship of Honor

This all leads an admirer of honor to wonder if the institution of the military has not suffered the same fate as the Titanic which sank 100 years ago. Has the proverbial ship of honor sunk?

There is a very beautiful legend famous among the people of Brittany in France called la Cathedrale Engloutie (“The Submerged Cathedral”). It speaks of an old city that was submerged by a mysterious cataclysm in the Atlantic Ocean, not too far off the coast of Europe. On certain nights when the moon is full and the tide is low, one can see the majestic steeple of the town Cathedral among the waves. From time to time, it is said, angels ring the cathedral’s bells at the bottom of the sea. Those beautiful sounds then rise all the way to the surface, allowing fishermen going by, on a calm evening with a tranquil sea, to hear them. Those same fishermen say that one day the cathedral will return to dry land even more beautiful, as it has been kept unscathed under the waves.
While this is only a story, we could say this legend describes our beloved military which sometimes appears to be like a sunken ship of honor. Those who love honor in our day also experience moments like the calm evening on a tranquil sea. They know that this ship of Honor will also return to dry land even more beautiful because it also remains unscathed under the waves.

We can hear the “bells of honor” in men like Marine Corps Colonel John Ripley, Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace. They allow us to hear the bells of honor because they kept their honor clean.

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texas lottery

Sgt. Rafael Peralta died while smothering a grenade during the battle for Fallujah.

I just came across a story today about Pfc. Ricardo Peralta, who joined the Marines to carry on the legacy of his brother, Navy Cross Recipient Sergeant Rafael Peralta.

Sgt. Peralta died very much like Michael Monsoor when he led a group of other Marines through a series of house clearings, during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. They were successful in the first three house, but things went bad in a hurry as they charged the fourth.

The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project describes how Sgt. Peralta “found two rooms empty on the ground floor, but upon opening a third door he was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire that left him severely wounded. He dropped to the floor and moved aside in order to allow the Marines behind him to return fire.”

Moments later terrorist inside the room threw a grenade at the Marines. Sgt. Peraldas describes how “The two Marines with Sgt. Peralta tried to get out of the room, but could not. Sgt. Peralta was still conscious on the floor and reports indicate that despite his wounds, he was able to reach for the grenade and pull it under his body absorbing the majority of the lethal blast and shrapnel which killed him instantly, but saved the lives of his fellow Marines.”

In a Newsweek article about the event, Cpl. Robert Reynolds explained how Sgt. Peralta collapsed onto the floor in a “pool of blood,” after being shot. “Then Reynolds spotted what is the dread of every infantryman: a grenade bouncing toward the squad. “It was yellow and it came from a room to our side,” he says. Reynolds says he watched Peralta reach out and drag the grenade under his body.”

Pfc Ricardo Peralta was only 14 when his brother died in such a selfless way, but is quoted in the above article as saying, “I knew what I had to do, and that was to enlist in the Marine Corps.”

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The grave of Medal of Honor Recipient Pfc. David Nash. St. Mary of the Woods Cemetery, Whitesville, Kentucky.

It occurred to me after I posted the moving story Sergeant Rafael Peralta how some people might find it hard to believe that an American Serviceman would do such like jumping on grenade.

However, this is not an uncommon thing in the American Armed Forces. I grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky, for example, and will always remember the time a relative took me to visit the memorial for Pfc. David Nash, in nearby Whitesville. Very much like Sgt. Peralta and Michael Monsoor, this 21 year old young man, who was in the prime of his life, also jumped on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War. It was hard for me to believe that tiny little Whitesville, Kentucky produced such a man and I don not hesitate to say it gave caused a flood of emotion, and no small amount of pride, to stand there and read about his deeds.

Relatives say Jason never regained consciousness after sustaining a head injury when he jumped on a grenade, April 14, in the Iraqi city of Karbala.

I had the privilege of meeting Dan and Debbie Dunham at a recent event. Their 22 year old son Cpl. Jason Dunham also received the Medal of Honor posthumously, for throwing himself on a grenade in 2004 during the war in Iraq. When I told Mrs. Dunham about this blog and my desire to recognize and celebrate the heroism of American fighting men she emphatically responded, “Keep it up, we need to tell their stories.”

You might think I have run out of names, but I have not.

Nineteen year old Pfc. Ross McGinnis also joined the hallowed ranks of those who gave their lives so that others might live and he did so in exactly the same manner. Take time to look at the picture of him on the front page of this website and what you will see is a smiling young kid, bursting with life. Yet this young man accomplished a man size feat, on December 4, 2006, when he chose to give his life for others. Lastly there is Medal of Honor recipient, Jack Lucas who covered two live grenades, during the WWII battle for Iwo Jima. Although one of the grenades was a dud, Jack Lucas absorbed the explosion of the other and ultimately saved those in the trench with him. He was only 17 at the time, but miraculously survived to tell the story.

Stop for a moment and reflect on the unselfishness it takes to perform such an act and the frequency with which Americans have done this.

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Pat Tillman

For nearly twenty years, a crowd has gathered at Fort Benning in mid-November to protest against the activities of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly called the School of the Americas) and demand its closure.

The annual event is more than just a protest. It is a gathering of the scattered fringes of the religious, political and cultural left who use the event as a platform to push ideas that range from drug legalization to abortion or even women’s ordination. Leftist Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois leads this gathering which includes a large collection of socialists, liberation theology advocates and anarchists. It is no surprise that the 71-year-old priest automatically incurred excommunication for openly opposing Church doctrine.

For nearly twenty years, both he and his protesters have resisted the Army’s efforts to “dialogue.” They reject outright the Army’s unconditional offers to open its doors to any who wish to review the school’s operation.

Nearly twenty years of protest calls to mind another twenty-year milestone – the fall of the Berlin Wall. In light of this commemoration, we offer some considerations.


East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall, November 20th., 1961.

A Continued Danger

On the twentieth anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, we might be tempted to think that the world’s great military dangers have passed. However, that is not the case. We still live in a world of violence and uncertainties. Our enemies are no longer concentrated behind an Iron Curtain but are scattered about the world in the form of radical groups and rogue nations all too willing to threaten the peace.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, one would hope that at least the outdated Marxist ideas that caused so much misery all over the world would be consigned to the dustbin of history. However, that is not the case. Guerrilla groups in Latin America like Colombia’s FARC still defend their outdated Marxist ideas through violence and bloodshed. There is still Stalinist North Korea, poverty-stricken Cuba and Communist China oppressing its people and trampling on human natural rights. There is Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela exporting his Bolivarian socialist revolution across Latin America – including the building of a nuclear program.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it would be hoped that the terrors of our age might also fall. However, that is not the case. Terror or the threat of terror lives as the tactic of choice among Islamic radicals who can be found in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan or Palestine. Iran’s mullahs stand ready to develop nuclear arms. Suicide bombers strike terror into whole nations and put fear into the hearts of thousands who might become the next innocent victims.

Pacifists Do Not Keep the Peace

Now more than ever, we need the soldier to keep the peace.

We note, however, that it was not the pacifists that brought down the Berlin Wall. Theirs was a constant message of concession, “dialogue,” and defeat.

When the terrible wall came crashing down, these Marxists were nowhere to be found to condemn the massive misery that lay exposed in those communist countries. They did not renounce their adherence to this system which they fought so hard to impose upon the West.

We tend to forget that it was the soldier that helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall. The soldier took upon himself the thankless task of confronting evil by force of arms. It was the soldier that risked all to do his duty wherever he was called to go without hesitation or complaint. The American soldier and his counterparts all over the world stood down the Communist threat in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

His services are no less needed in our days.



Colonel John W. Ripley

Thank the Heroes

Thus, we need to thank – not protest – these heroes who put their lives on the line. These heroes guarantee the peace. We live freely because they made the greatest of sacrifices – even that of life.

We remember Medal of Honor heroes like Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when he threw himself upon a fragmentation grenade and saved four soldiers from certain serious injury or death in Iraq in December of 2006. We remember Navy Seal Michael Monsoor, who likewise unselfishly gave his life, in order to save his fellow Seals on September 29, 2006.

We can also remember heroes like the late Col. John W. Ripley whose heroism in Vietnam was legendary. These and so many more make up those legions of heroes that deserve not our scorn but our gratitude.

Where Will They Turn?

There are those who protest against the soldier. They see his role as one buttressing structures of oppression and power. They are ready to label those who still fight against Marxism as murderers and assassins. They turn a blind eye to a ruthless enemy who breaks all rules and conventions as Marxists have always done. They would deny defenseless populations the training and tools needed to defend themselves against this enemy.

In the case of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, they ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of its graduates have committed no crime save that of wanting to keep their country safe and free. They are prepared to amplify any alleged crime of a soldier to gigantic proportions while reducing to nothing the blatant abuses of Marxists in countries like Cuba, China, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.


"Who will be there to defend them?"

We ask those who protest: When the fury of the terrorists turns upon them, who will they appeal to? When their freedom is taken away with the same disregard as Colombia’s FARC guerrillas take the freedom of their innocent hostages, where will they turn? When their right to protest is met with bullets and tanks like that of Tiananmen Square, who will be there to defend them?

They will turn to the soldier who defends even those who calumniate him.

A Call to Gratitude
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) calls upon the public to thank the heroes.

Let us thank them for standing up to the Soviet menace that lurked behind the Berlin Wall that fell twenty years ago. Let us thank those who still fight and keep our nation safe and help other nations do likewise.

Let us, of course, censor any abuses, but let us also be consistent and condemn the systemic and widespread abuses that have come from Castro’s Cuba, the FARC guerillas and other leftist movements who still uphold the outdated and iniquitous Marxist ideologies that built the infamous Berlin Wall.

As Americans, let us be proud of our heroes as they continue to fight and train others to defend their nations against those who threaten the peace.

May God protect them and their families in their daily battles around the world.

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Michael Monsoor bravely guarding the streets of Ramadi.

Was Michael Monsoor a Muslim? Well that’s the impression a person might get after reading the November 9, 2009 New York Times article “Complications Grow for Muslims Serving in U.S. Military”, by Andrea Elliott.

For those unfamiliar with Michael Monsoor.  He was the Navy Seal who unselfishly gave his life, in order to save his fellow Seals, when he jumped on a live grenade on September 29, 2006. He was the only one, in a roof top overlook, who could have escaped unharmed that day, yet he chose to give his life instead. In doing so he not only overcame his own instinct of self preservation but he actually went against what SEALS are trained to do in such circumstances.

Those who survived described him as “never taking his eyes off the grenade” and always moving down and toward the explosive. The most moving tribute to Monsoor came from one of the SEALS who survived. “Mikey looked death in the face that day,” he recounted, “and said, ‘you cannot take my brothers, I will go in their stead.’”

Let all tongues be mute.

Now we have the opposite thing take place on the largest Army base in the world when another soldier, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, turned his weapons on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood; thirteen were left dead in his wake of destruction. As he was carrying out this massacre, Hasan was reported to be continually yelling “Allah Akbar”, the same thing Muslim extremist scream as they cut off the heads of their American victims.

There are those who refuse to see the religious motivations for the actions of Hasan, but what writer Andrea Elliott  does in her November 9th article simply goes beyond the pale.

She tells of the woes Muslims face in the military but then ends the article by showing the great contribution, by people of the Muslim religion, that are often overlooked. Among those she cites is a soldier who received the Bronze Star. This soldier pointed out how “many Americans overlook the heroic efforts of Muslims in uniform.” The prime example he gave was that of Michael Monsoor.


George and Sally Monsoor look at the Medal of Honor presented to them in honor of their Catholic son by President George W. Bush Tuesday, April 8, 2008.

Michael Monsoor was of Lebanese descent and he was a practicing Roman Catholic. His godmother personally told me, in an interview for my article No Greater Love, that he frequented the sacraments. His attendance at Sunday mass left such an impression on those who served with him, that they sometimes joined him. Besides attending mass he also frequented the sacrament of confession. He was an exemplary individual in many ways but most especially by his practice of his Catholic faith. To insinuate in any way the he was Muslim is a gross ignorance of the facts and misleading for the reader.

A two minute search on Google is all that is needed to find out the facts I have narrated in this article. Why did Mrs. Elliott not take the time to research who Michael Monsoor was before allowing such a gross misrepresentation of the man in our nation’s most prominent newspaper.

What is so insulting about all of this is the contrast between the actions of the two men. Maj. Hasan was, from what every report indicates, full of hatred, whereas Michael Monsoor was motivated by the purest of love, a love which was said to have no equal by our Savior Himself: “No Greater Love.”

Andrea Elliott owes an apology to the Monsoor parents and to the American people. Heroes of the caliber of Michael Monsoor are extremely rare in the world we live in. He was young, handsome, strong and had his whole life ahead of him when he stepped onto the Ramadi rooftop that day in 2006. He had everything life can offer and in the blinking of an eye he gave all of it up. He was given a choice to save himself or his friends. He chose, in a split second, to save his friends. He is an example for us all and he deserves better than this.


Note:  Since the original posting of this article, the New York Times published a correction on November 11, 2009.

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Written by: Norman Fulkerson

When Michael Monsoor jumped on a grenade to save the lives of three Navy Seals in September of 2006, the nation was left speechless. The Medal of Honor was presented to his grieving parents, during a White House reception, as a mournful audience looked on. There was a man in the room that day that might have seemed like just another soldier, if not for the peculiar spring in his step.

His name is William “Spanky” Gibson. He had just flown in from overseas and had a good reason for being present at the ceremony. He lost his left leg during a firefight in Iraq six months before and it was Michael Monsoor who provided cover in a rooftop overlook that contributed toward saving his life. It would be hard to find someone more worthy of that sacrifice than William Gibson. Like Petty Officer Monsoor, he is a tribute to the American soldier and his story deserves to be told.

Gunnery Seargent William “Spanky” Gibson

Idealistic Youth
William Gibson acquired the nickname “Spanky” in boot camp. Although it had nothing to do with his likeness to the roundfaced kid in “The Little Rascals” series, he does radiate much of the innocent charm of that little boy.

By the time “Spanky” was only five years old, his father, William Sr., said he knew exactly what he wanted to be in life.

“When I grow up,” he said, “I am going to be just like grandpa.”

His grandfather, Peterson Parrott, a 30-year Marine, visited his impressionable grandson on a stopover while transferring from the East to the West coast. When Spanky saw his grandfather in uniform with all his decorations, he was fascinated. During his stay, Mr. Parrott kept his medals on a high shelf out of reach of the idealistic youth but made him a promise.

“When you grow tall enough to reach those medals,” Mr. Parrott said, “You can have them.”

By the time he grew tall enough, he had already joined the Marines and was well on his way to earning his own medals for bravery.

“[A soldier is] all he ever wanted to be,” said his father.

Firefight in Ramadi

After joining the Marine Corps he earned the rank of gunnery seargent. In May of 2006, he was leading a four-man team through the streets of Ramadi, Iraq on a foot patrol. They were searching for the notorious Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the most dangerous city on earth.

Alongside him was an Iraqi soldier; a man he helped train.

Suddenly they came under fire from a sniper in a nearby house. The Iraqi soldier was shot in the knee and incapacitated. With total disregard for his own safety, Sgt. Gibson ran to his rescue when a 30-caliber round ripped through his left knee cap, destroying the socket and severing his femoral artery.

The identical nature of the injuries, coming from a trained enemy marksman might have been an intentional plan to increase the confusion of already violent firefight. If they thought Sgt. Gibson would just lie their screaming in pain before being finished off later, they were sorely mistaken.

“Gunny” Gibson, as his men often called him, never missed a beat. Thinking that his knee had only given out, he attempted to stand before realizing the severity of his injury. Not allowing this to deter him, he simply rolled over and began returning fire. If not for the immediate assistance given to him by a SEAL corpsman, he would have bled to death on the battlefield. As he was dragged from the scene, he continued to lay down suppressive fire in spite of the pain and massive loss of blood.

“When Can I Return to Iraq?”

Sgt. Gibson was eventually flown back to the United States and waiting for him at the airport was Gen. Michael Hagee, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Without a trace of self pity, Sgt Gibson asked the Commandant a curious question.

“What will this do to my career?”

The Commandant assured him that it would affect his career only to the degree that he allowed it to do so. This was a veritable invitation for Sgt. Gibson to fight as hard towards full rehabilitation as he fought on the streets of Ramadi. The fight began when he was encouraged to get out of the Marine Corps. Undeterred by the suggestion, William Gibson called the Commandant directly and found the support he needed to remain.

What Sgt. Gibson faced later is truly inspiring. The lower part of his left leg had been amputated overseas before he arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. In spite of the seriousness of his injury, he mystified those around him with the constant inquiry: “When can I return to Iraq?” Those witnessing such determination were shocked, considering he might lose the rest of his leg. They were wondering how he would adjust to a life with a prosthetic while Sgt. Gibson was thinking about fighting a war with one.

“I would beg the surgeons every time they would come in,” he said with a smile, “to cut it off, close me up and get me out of here.”[1]

He knew that “out of here” meant one step closer to his goal of returning to combat with or without the remaining part of his left leg. The surgeons were unsuccessful. Sgt. Gibson ended up losing the rest of his leg, but he never lost his will to fight.

“It isn’t growing back” he was quoted as saying, “so let’s start recovering.”[2]

As unbelievable as this might be, Sgt. Gibsons attitude towards a long recovery was even more so.

“What is the shortest time of anyone recovering from such an injury?” his wife Chaney remembered him asking the doctors. He was told that the quickest anyone made it through rehab was thirteen months, but some were as long as eighteen to twenty four months.

“I am not doing that,” was Sgt. Gibson defiant response.

Sgt. Gibson in the Marathon.

Escape from Alcatraz
He then began an astonishing rehabilitation program. Two months after his injury he stopped taking all his medicine including that for pain so as to be clearheaded and focused. Shortly after that, he began taking his first steps on a new prosthetic leg with the help of crutches. Three months later, he participated in the Marine Corps Marathon on a hand bike, then it was on to skiing and later ice climbing.

It wasn’t long before he tackled something which even a man with two legs would hesitate attempting and that was the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. This would turn out to be the break he needed to return to Iraq.

The Triathlon is a yearly event in which swimmers are dropped on the island in the San Francisco Bay where the famous prison is located. The first part of the Triathlon entails swimming to shore in freezing cold, shark-infested waters. Sgt. Gibson made the swim with only one leg and came in among the top ten.

When he reached the shore he was greeted by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General James Mattis.

“What can I do for you, Marine?” Gen. Mattis asked the winded but determined soldier.

“I want to be re-deployed,” said Sgt. Gibson.

“You can come with me in January,” Gen. Mattis said, “or a later flight, which would you prefer?”

Sgt. Gibson chose the first flight out and after making the trip in January of 2008 with General James Mattis, he has become the first full leg amputee ever to return to duty in a combat zone.

“I Have Just Done My Job”

Although what he has done is extraordinary, his mother says her son wouldn’t agree.

“He doesn’t feel like he has done anything special,” she says. In the face of a writer who approached the family with the idea of writing a book about Sgt. Gibson, his mother says his attitude remained the same. “Why would anyone want to read about me,” he argues, “I have just done my job?”

Perhaps the most amazing thing about William Gibson is his refusal to allow the loss of a leg to get him down. This no doubt is a character trait he inherited from his father; a Vietnam veteran who suffered a broken back in combat. When doctors told William Sr. that he would never walk again he proved them wrong. “You never say can’t,” Mr. Gibson said. “It might be difficult, but you can do it.”

The only moment of sadness for Sgt. Gibson came with the thought of having to leave the battlefield after his injury.
Chaney Gibson described her husband as someone who leads by example. “He would never put one of his Marines out there alone to get hurt,” she said. “He felt like he had to protect them.”

At the time he was wounded, Sgt. Gibson was a 35-year-old veteran Marine, fighting alongside much younger Marines who were seeing their first action. He believed strongly in leading his men in battle, not pushing them from behind. It was for this reason that he was disappointed at having to leave “his boys” alone in battle while he was evacuated.

He would go on to say that if given the chance to change anything that happened that day, he wouldn’t. “Better me,” he said, “than one of my men.”

* * *

Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson is safely home now and while his return to battle without a leg might have earned him a place in the history books, his example has earned him a place in the heart of every patriotic American. He represents all the best our country has to offer and it is nice to know that the sniper bullet which cost him a leg, didn’t touch his honor. Bullets, after all, can be purchased but true valor is priceless.


  1. http://soldiersangelsgermany.blogspot.com/2008/04/mike-monsoor-and-spanky-gibson.html
  2. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,333534,00.html


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Written by Norman Fulkerson

On September 29, 2006, Ramadi, Iraq was considered the most dangerous city on planet earth for American servicemen. Michael Monsoor was there in the midst of it all. He was a member of the elite branch of the Navy called SEALS, which stands for SEa, Air and Land. On that day, he was on a rooftop over-watch in the most contested part of the city called the Ma’laab district. Positioned near the only exit, with an MK 48 machine gun in hand, he was providing security for two SEAL snipers who lay in prone positions on either side of him. Moments later a fragmentation grenade bounced off his chest and landed on the ground…

Becoming a Navy SEAL

Although nothing can adequately prepare one for such a circumstance, Michael Monsoor seemed to be living a life which pointed to it. He was an adventuresome boy growing up in Southern California. His father George and older brother Jim had both been proud Marines. His boyhood dream of being a SEAL began to be realized when, at 20 years of age, he joined the Navy.

In the first phase of training, he broke his heel. Exhibiting the selflessness which would become his trademark, he continued to run with a pain so excruciating he nearly passed out. Unable to continue, he was forced to ring the bell indicating that a trainee had quit the program. He was medically rolled back and sent to Italy for a year where he spent the majority of his off time doing physical training. His mother, Sally, when visiting him, said he hardly ever stopped running.

He then reentered a grueling SEAL program where only 23% pass, graduated at the top in the class of 2005 and was assigned to Delta Platoon. In April 2006 he was sent to Iraq on his first tour of duty.

From here we almost lose our breath as we follow the rapid upward trajectory his life would take.

Rescued from the Jaws of Death
As a heavy-weapons machine gunner, his position while patrolling the streets of Ramadi with Delta Company was right behind the point man. The responsibility for protecting the rest of the unit fell squarely on his shoulders. It was an appropriate position for a Catholic young man named after the warrior angel, Saint Michael.

He was also a SEAL communicator which required him to carry a rucksack full of communications equipment in addition to his MK 48 machine gun full of ammunition. He carried the extra 100 lbs, without complaint, in temperatures as high as 130 degrees.

In May of 2006, during his first month in Iraq, his unit came under fire during counter-terrorist operations. Heavy enemy automatic weapons fire resulted in a wounded SEAL who was left exposed to enemy fire. Michael threw caution to the wind and ran directly into the line of fire to help the injured soldier. As gun fire chewed up the asphalt around him, Michael snatched the wounded soldier from the jaws of death with one arm, returned enemy fire with the other and then dragged him to safety.

He then maintained suppressive fire while the wounded SEAL received tactical casualty treatment. After loading his wounded teammate onto an evacuation vehicle, he returned to the battle. This act of heroism earned him a Silver Star and a reputation for putting others first.

Some months later the injured soldier had a dream of the incident where the Michael who rescued him had wings. He later had an artist make a reproduction of the image in his dream depicting Michael Monsoor in dress blues with a loaded MK 48 Machine gun and silvery wings. As a tribute to Saint Michael the Archangel, who he felt was there with them, he included the short exorcism which invokes the warrior angel to “be our protection against wickedness.”

Streets Paved with Fire
Such protection was sorely needed especially considering that 75% of the missions involving Michael’s platoon came under attack. Thirty five escalated into heated firefights taking place in “streets that were paved with fire.”[1]

During eleven of those missions Michael’s leadership, guidance and decisive action were key in saving the lives of many of his men. For his heroism he was awarded the Bronze Star. The citation accompanying the medal describes how he “exposed himself to heavy enemy fire while shielding his teammates with suppressive fire. He aggressively stabilized each chaotic situation with focused determination and uncanny tactical awareness. Each time [terrorists] assaulted his team with small arms fire or rocket propelled grenades, he quickly assessed the situation, determined the best course of action to counter the enemy assaults, and implemented his plan to gain the best tactical advantage.”[2]

In the midst of such violent action, Michael Monsoor displayed what Secretary of the Navy, Donald Winter described as a “cool headedness under fire” and “when hostility broke out, he proved he was a SEAL you wanted on your team.”[3]

As extraordinary as all of this is, it was merely a prelude to the defining moment of his life in the rooftop over-watch.

“Path of Honor”
When the grenade landed in front of him, Michael Monsoor knew that the length of the fuse would not allow him to toss it out. He also knew that he was two short weeks away from returning home to family and friends. Plans were already made for him to see his younger brother play in a football game for North Dakota’s Minot State University.[4]

With the only exit door at his back, a live grenade at his feet and two Navy Seals in front of him he was faced with the hardest decision of his life. It was one of those rare moments when life passes before your eyes. Having already endured so many hardships and numerous brushes with death no one would have faulted him had he chosen a path to safety.

“He chose a different path,” said Mr. Winter, “a path of honor.” On numerous occasions, Michael Monsoor stared death in the face in his heroic defense of others. Once again he and death would meet and once again he put others first. With unflinching selflessness he gave his life so that others might live. In so doing, he saved the lives of three Navy SEALS and eight Iraqi soldiers.

One of the survivors described how “Mikey” looked death in the face that day and said, “You cannot take my brothers, I will go in their stead.”[5]

“He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down and toward it,” said a 28-year-old lieutenant who lived to tell the story. “He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs’ lives.”[6]

Another eyewitness described Michael’s countenance, as “completely calm, showing no fear only resolve.”

It could easily be said of him what Gen. Pericles said in his funeral oration for the warriors of ancient Athens, “He passed away from the scene, not of his fear, but of his glory.”

Feast of St. Michael the Archangel
Michael Monsoor was immediately evacuated to a battalion aid station. Fr. Paul Anthony Halladay, his platoon chaplain, was with Michael as he passed away approximately 30 minutes later.

It was an appropriate end for a Catholic soldier who, according to many reports, was a practicing Catholic. His fellow soldiers told how he frequently attended mass “with devotion” before his operations.

Patricia Monsoor, his aunt and godmother, said he “went to confession frequently” and “other soldiers who were not practicing would sometimes follow [him to mass] because of his good example.”

When he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, a tearful President Bush reminded the audience that the day Michael Monsoor died was the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel.

An emotional Donald Winter quoted a passage from scripture already remembered by so many to describe Michael Monsoor. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

“When it came down to laying down his life for his friends, his faith allowed him to [do so] without a moment’s hesitation,” said Father Halladay.[7]

“I Have Given Everything”
The most moving tribute to Petty Officer Michael Monsoor was that given by Lt. Commander John Willink during an evening ceremony at the Navy Memorial honoring the fallen hero.[8]

He described in detail a photo of Michael released shortly after his death. The picture shows Michael walking at the head of his platoon, through the war-torn streets of Ramadi. They are shrouded in a greenish yellow mist used to mask their movements from the enemy. In spite of the chaos and danger which surrounds them, Michael is calm, almost smiling.

“As I look at this picture,” Lt. Willink said, “I hear a voice in a humble but confident tone.”

He then finishes his speech with the words he imagines Michael saying to him. They are words which I feel Michael Monsoor is saying to every American who appreciates the unbelievable sacrifice he made in a faraway land. Far from his family and the country he loved.

“I am Michael Monsoor…

“I am patrolling the streets of Ramadi… My eyes sting from the sweat, my gun and gear are heavy but these things do not bother me. There is no comfort here but this is the life I have chosen and there is no place I would rather be…and I am ready.

“I am Michael Monsoor… I miss my family. I want to hold my nieces and nephews again. I want to make them smile and laugh but I am far from home. Instead I smile at the Iraqi children when we pass them by. When we encounter Iraqi families I treat them with respect and dignity. I know the importance of family because there is nothing more important to me, than my family…

“I am Michael Monsoor, I love my country, my fellow SEALS and the men fighting along side us… I have lived life to its fullest. I have not looked back. I leave nothing but love and I have no regrets.

“I am Michael Monsoor… and I have given everything…For you!”


  1. http://www.blackfive.net/main/2008/04/us-navy-seal-mi.html
  2. http://www.navy.mil/moh/Monsoor/bronze.pdf
  3. http://www.navy.mil/moh/Monsoor/hoh.html
  4. http://www.landstuhlhospitalcareproject.org/Honorees/Michael%20A.%20Monsoor/Michael%20A.%20Monsoor.htm
  5. http://mksviews.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/you-cannot-take-my-brothers-i-will-go-in-their-stead
  6. http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,116817,00.html
  7. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2006608/posts?page=5
  8. http://www.navy.mil/moh/Monsoor/flag.html


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