By Capt. Anthony MaldonadoMarch 6, 2019
SAN DIEGO. -- On a sunny day California day, current and former Soldiers from Fort Campbell's 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, joined nearly 5,000 service members and civilians to celebrate the commissioning of the US Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), Jan. 26, 2019.
The ship's namesake, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, was a Navy Sea, Air and Land Team member with SEAL Team 3 and attached to 1-506th "Red Currahee" during the Battle of Ramadi in 2006.
Monsoor was killed in action September 29, 2006, when he sacrificed his life by jumping on an enemy grenade as it detonated, saving three of his teammates. For his actions that day, Monsoor was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2008. Later that same year, the Secretary of the Navy announced that the second ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyer would be named in his honor.
The ship's commissioning, meant to highlight Monsoor's sacrifice while showcasing cutting edge naval technology, served as a rare touchstone between the Army and Navy. Among the attendees were four living Medal of Honor recipients, 20 Gold Star Families, including the Monsoor family, California Congressman Scott Peters, Admiral Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, and Maj. Gen. Ronald Clark, Commander, 25th Infantry Division. Clark commanded the 1-506th during the unit's 2006 deployment to Iraq.
Approaching the podium, Clark addressed the crowd, where he underscored the bond that developed between members of the SEAL Team 3 and the Red Currahee Soldiers. There was such a strong sense of camaraderie that the former battalion commander affectionately referred to members of SEAL Team 3 as "Army SEALs."
"Let me be very clear," Clark said. "Our band of brothers was brought together through our fight against a tough and violent enemy."
Thirteen years removed from the engagement, Clark described the fight with the same intensity, adding that it was the kind of fight "that forges bonds that transcend race, religion, gender, or even silly parochial service rivalries." Ultimately, Clark attributed the joint success in Ramadi to one unifying factor: love.
"There is no greater human emotion than the feeling to belong, to a team, to a unit, to a brotherhood, to a family," Clark said.
The bond that developed between 1-506th and SEAL Team 3 was readily evident during the ceremony as the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Scott Smith stressed the impact of the legacy on his crew. As a touching tribute to the shared lineage, Smith invited the current members of 1-506th to take part in a joint color guard along with the ship's crew and members of SEAL Team 3. Among them was Staff Sgt. Aaron King, Company D, 1-506th..
"It was an honor to be a part of this ceremony and witness the shared history of so many units," King said.
Sally Monsoor, the mother of Michael Monsoor and the ship's sponsor, approached the lectern. With an emotional quiver in a voice full of pride, Monsoor gave the ship and her crew the first official order.
"Officers and crew of the USS Michael Monsoor," said Monsoor. "Man our ship and bring her life."
At her command, 140 sailors, joined by 1-506th Soldiers and members of SEAL Team 3 from the 2006 deployment ascended the steps onto the ship and manned the rails.
"The Soldiers and SEALs that stand alongside the crew perform their seemingly anonymous, ordinary acts which are anything but," Smith said, as the Sailors, Soldiers, and SEALs stood shoulder to shoulder aboard the ship under the California sun.
As the USS Michael Monsoor prepares for her maiden voyage, Smith is confident that the shared history of the two units "ties the USS Michael Monsoor to a rich past while paving the way to a nautical future for Red Currahee."
Clark shared similar sentiments.
"Mike Monsoor will remain our touchstone, for he is the connection to our shared history and our shared commitment to one another," Clark said. "It's that shared commitment that will allow others to follow in our footsteps and serve in the line."