Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

On Memorial Day, think what you have done to win or end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Have you ever heard of Paul R. Smith? No? How about Jared C. Monti or Michael P. Murphy? Or perhaps Michael A. Monsoor, Ross A. McGinnis or Jason L. Dunham?

It’s no surprise if you haven’t. The U.S. military and the federal government did little to tell you about them and their heroism.

These six men are the only recipients of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are collectively called.

Smith, Monti and Murphy all died from enemy fire. Smith was the first recipient of the six for his action in April 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. He’s the only one to die fighting a uniformed enemy.

He was part of a detachment constructing a prisoner of war holding area near the Baghdad airport when an Iraqi infantry company attacked.

He organized a defense of the holding area, attacking the enemy with hand grenades and rockets then manning a .50 caliber machine gun while under heavy fire to give his comrades cover so they could evacuate wounded GIs. He was killed by enemy fire.

Murphy and Monti were both killed in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Murphy’s unit came under fire in rugged terrain. He tried to radio for air and ground support but couldn’t get a signal. He left his cover for more open terrain where his radio would work. Despite being under intense enemy fire, he remained in the open to give direction to the counter-strike and rescue operation, was wounded, then continued to fight and make radio calls until he died from his wounds.

Monti died while repeatedly trying to rescue a wounded comrade laying in the open. Dunham, McGinnis and Monsoor all died in Iraq. All three threw themselves on grenades to save the lives of their comrades.

More than 5,500 Americans have died fighting in these two wars. Few have won medals of valor. Most were just driving along in a convoy when a hidden bomb blew them up. They died serving their country nonetheless, and deserve as much honor, praise and remembrance for their service as Smith, Monti, Murphy, Monsoor, McGinnis and Dunham.

Monday is Memorial Day, a holiday specifically for them and the more than 1 million others who have fought and died for their country.

Not that many of us will give much thought Monday to our honored dead. We have beaches to comb, campsites to set up, hamburgers to grill and shopping centers to visit.

Most of us will celebrate the unofficial start of summer Monday more than honor those who have given the “last full measure of devotion.”

But while you’re celebrating your holiday, take a moment to think of these six winners of the Medal of Honor and the sacrifices they made to save their comrades and to keep their country safe.

Then rather than say a prayer for them or shed a tear, look inward to yourself and ask, “What measure of devotion have I given in these two wars?”

If you think you’ve done enough, good for you. If not, what are you waiting for?

Search site | Terms of service