Destroyer Honors Navy SEAL Who Threw Himself on Grenade

Sailors assigned to the Naval Base Coronado security department fire a 19-gun salute during the commissioning ceremony for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001).
Sailors assigned to the Naval Base Coronado security department fire a 19-gun salute during the commissioning ceremony for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001).

Published Jan 26, 2019 7:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy’s second Zumwalt-class destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), was commissioned on January 26 at Naval Air Station North Island, California.

The ship honors Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, September 29, 2006. 

Monsoor was part of a sniper overwatch security position with two other SEALs and several Iraqi Army soldiers when an insurgent closed in and threw a fragmentation grenade into the position. The grenade hit Monsoor in the chest before falling to the ground. Positioned next to the single exit, Monsoor was the only one who could have escaped harm. Instead he dropped onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates. 

The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, inflicting a mortal wound. Monsoor’s actions saved the lives of his two teammates and the accompanying Iraqi soldiers. His Medal of Honor citation reads, “by his undaunted courage, fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

California Congressman Scott Peters delivered the commissioning ceremony's principal address for the ship named for the southern California native. "'You never quit.' Those are the words Michael Monsoor wrote with permanent marker inside the camouflage hat he wore throughout his [Basic Undersea Demolition School] training at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center here at Coronado," said Peters. 

"If you visit the quarterdeck of the magnificent new ship we commission this morning, you will see his hat there with those words inscribed within it. It is encased in glass where and it will remain on display permanently for the life of the ship. The letters are faded from time and wear but their significance and how Michael applied them to his life are as vivid and meaningful today as they were that day when he wrote them many years ago as his reminder to persevere. The words 'you never quit' are also brandished prominently throughout the ship as if Michael himself is offering encouragement to every man and woman who sets sail upon her."

Sally Monsoor, Michael Monsoor’s mother, served as the ship’s sponsor and delivered the time-honored first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" The crew of 148 officers and enlisted personnel were joined by service members who served with Monsoor in Ramadi as they raced aboard to man the rails and watch stations.

"Monsoor is an incredible honor that the Navy has bestowed upon him and his family," said Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Oleson, one of Monsoor’s teammates in Ramadi. "I went out to the christening event, and I was completely blown away [by] the sheer size of what this ship represents. I think if Mikey saw the ship, he'd be like, 'That's too much. That's not for me. I'm just laid back.' But I think it's truly an honor that the Navy did this, especially the type of destroyer that it is. ... [with] its cutting-edge, advanced technology. I think, with Mikey in the platoon, always at the front, leading the way, the way the ship is designed, it's going to be leading the way in the future."

The nearly 16,000-ton USS Michael Monsoor was built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The ship is 610 feet in length, has a beam of 87 feet and a navigational draft of 27 feet. The ship is powered by two Rolls-Royce main turbine generators, two Rolls-Royce auxiliary turbine generators, two 34.6 MW advanced induction motors to speeds up to 30-plus knots.