Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan. He is the second service member to receive the military's highest honor for action in Afghanistan. But the award was given 246 times in Vietnam.
President Obama will award the Medal of Honor this autumn to a soldier who died in Afghanistan in 2006. He will be the sixth soldier given the award since 9/11, raising questions as to why so few veterans of the current wars have received the military's highest honor.
No official account of what Monti did to warrant the medal has been released, but in a video on YouTube, Monti's father says his son was killed while trying to save fellow soldiers, twice running into enemy fire on purpose.
The announcement points to the apparent reluctance of the Pentagon to anoint today's heroes with the Medal of Honor.
The Vietnam War produced 246 Medal of Honor recipients during the 16 years of the conflict. Monti will be only the second service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. Four service members have been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq. A total of 1.9 million service members have deployed since 2001.
"Given the tremendous sacrifices of our troops, it is surprising that there were only six," says Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group in New York.
Each of the six were awarded posthumously. Of the 246 awarded for Vietnam, 154 were posthumous.