By Sgt. Jaime De LeonMay 13, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Soldiers and supporters of 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment gathered May 7 at Willowbrook Golf Club, Watertown, to mount up in a very different way, in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, the unit's recent Medal of Honor recipient.
Instead of humvees or horses, they quickly saddled up in golf carts to play a round of golf in honor of their fallen comrade, who died June 21, 2006, while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom VI in Afghanistan.
The nearly $1,900 raised during the Sgt. 1st Class Monti Memorial Golf Tournament will go to the Spartan Association, a nonprofit organization established to support Soldiers and Families of the "Spartan Brigade," 3rd Brigade Combat Team, according to Capt. Jacob Michaud, assistant operations officer for 3- 71 Cavalry, the unit hosting the event.
The tournament was named for a hero who was known as a quietly charitable man long before he gave his life.
"At one point, he paid for one of his Soldiers and his wife to go to the (squadron) ball," said Staff Sgt. Cory Grinnell, a friend of Monti's and tournament participant. "He gave the Soldier money for his wife to go buy a dress, too, because he knew they didn't have any."
Monti's charitable, fun-loving nature was well-reflected in the event, with donations being made and plenty of fun to go around. Participants golfed a total of 18 holes, playing on two-man teams.
The winning team was Staff Sgt. Corey Boteler, re-enlistment NCO for 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and Staff Sgt. Dave Bick, platoon sergeant for the transportation platoon, A Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion.
Monti's memory weighed heavy on the minds of those he left behind. The more than three years that have passed since Monti made the ultimate sacrifice seem like far more to those who knew him.
"It's been a long three years," Grinnell said. "He was one of the best people I've ever known."
His friends couldn't help but imagine what it would be like if Monti was there.
"He wouldn't be saying much (if he was here)," Grinnell said.
"He'd just be playing bumper cars with the golf carts," he added with a chuckle.