(Message forwarded by Ashour Marano, George Rasho, William Aprim)
The sailor pictured is Navy Petty Officer, PO2 (Petty Officer, Second Class) EOD2 (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Second Class), Mike Monsoor, an Assyrian-American from San Diego, California, April 5th, 1981 ~ September 29th, 2006.
Mike Monsoor was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for giving his life in Iraq, as he jumped on and covered with his body a live hand grenade, saving the lives of a large group of Navy Seals that was passing by.
During Mike Monsoor's funeral at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California, the six pallbearers removed the rosewood casket from the hearse and lined up on each side of Mike Monsoor's casket were his family members, friends, fellow sailors, and well-wishers.
The column of people continued from the hearse and all the way to the gravesite. What the group didn't know at the time was, every Navy Seal
(45 to be exact) that Mike Monsoor saved that day was scattered through-out the column!
As the pallbearers carried the rosewood casket down the column of people to the grave site. The column would collapse... which formed a group of people that followed behind. Every time the rosewood casket passed a Navy Seal, he would remove his gold Trident Pin from his uniform, and slap it down hard, causing the gold Trident Pin to embed itself into the top of the wooden casket, then the Navy Seal would step back from the column and salute!
Now for those who don't know what a Trident Pin is, here is the definition! After one completes the basic Navy Seals program which lasts for three weeks, and is followed by Seal Qualification Training, which is 15 more weeks of training necessary to continue improving basic skills and to learn new tactics and techniques,
required for an assignment to a Navy Seal platoon.
After successful completion, trainees are given their naval enlisted code, and are awarded the Navy Seal Trident Pin. With this gold pin they are now officially Navy Seals!
It was said, that you could hear each of the 45 slaps from across the cemetery! By the time the rosewood casket reached the grave site,
it looked as though it had a gold inlay from the 45 Trident Pins that lined the top!
This was a fitting end to an eternal send-off for a warrior hero!
Origins: On 29 September 2006, 25-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor (MA2, not EOD2 as stated above) was killed during operations in enemy-held territory at Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when he threw himself on top of a grenade in order to save the lives of his fellow SEALS. As described in the final two paragraphs of a Summary of Action (SOA) regarding the circumstances of his death:
While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. He immediately leapt to his feet and yelled "grenade" to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.
Petty Officer Monsoor's actions could not have been more selfless or clearly intentional. Of the three SEALs on that rooftop corner, he had the only avenue of escape away from the blast, and if he had so chosen, he could have easily escaped. Instead, Monsoor chose to protect his comrades by the sacrifice of his own life. By his courageous and selfless actions, he saved the lives of his two fellow SEALs and he is the most deserving of the special recognition afforded by awarding the Medal of Honor.
In April 2008, Michael Monsoor (who had already been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in a 9 May 2006 incident, when he and another SEAL pulled a wounded team member to safety amidst gunfire) was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His funeral, attended (in the words of President Bush) by "nearly every SEAL on the West Coast," was held on 12 October 2006 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. As shown at the end of the tribute video linked below, during Monsoor's funeral service, as the casket was taken from the hearse to the gravesite, fellow SEALs lined up in two columns to slap and embed the gold Tridents (a pin, pictured above, awarded for successful completion of SEAL Qualification Training) from their uniforms onto the top of Monsoor's coffin.
As President George W. Bush said of the event during the April 2008 Medal of Honor ceremony, "The procession went on nearly half an hour, and when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten."
On March 31, 2008, the United States Department of Defense confirmed that Michael Monsoor would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. Bush presented the medal to Monsoor's parents on April 8, 2008. In October 2008, United States Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced that DDG-1001, the second ship in the Zumwalt class of destroyers, would be named Michael Monsoor in honor of Monsoor.