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After Jared Monti was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, his father Paul Monti started driving his son's old truck.
When a songwriter in Nashville heard Paul talking about that on Here & Now, she co-wrote a song that eventually won Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards.
By Len Sandler
Deliberately exposing himself to machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire, SFC Jared Monti sacrificed himself attempting not once but three times to rescue one of his squad members from the “kill zone” after his patrol came under attack by insurgents on a mountain in Afghanistan. He declared, “He’s my guy. I’m going to get him.” In doing so, Jared was able to draw fire away from the rest of his patrol and buy time for air support to arrive. After suffering a direct hit from an RPG, the 30-year-old SFC recited the “Lord’s Prayer” as he lay dying. His last words were, “I’ve made peace with God. Tell my family I love them.”
“I've come to the conclusion, and it's the only way I can deal with it, that it was his destiny. This is what he was meant to do,” confesses his mother Janet.
His father, my childhood friend Paul, has been unable to throw out anything of his son’s. His house is crowded with boxes of Jared’s personal belongings and he continues to drive his Dodge Ram truck. Songwriter Connie Harrington heard a radio interview with Paul which inspired “I Drive Your Truck” which became the #1 country song in America and was named “Song of the Year” at both the 2013 CMA and 2014 ACM Awards shows and given the Golden Boot Award as 2014 “Song of the Year.”
“The actions we honor today were not a passing moment of courage. They were the culmination of a life of character and commitment,” said Barack Obama as he posthumously presented Jared with the first Medal of Honor of his presidency on September 17, 2009. Jared died a heroic death but, more importantly, lived a heroic life. This is the story of that life.
Excerpted from the book SEE YOU ON THE HIGH GROUND by Len Sandler. Copyright © 2014 by Len Sandler. Reprinted with permission of Fireship Press.
This segment aired on January 20, 2015.