Michael A. Monsoor was a 1999 graduate of Garden Grove High who played tight-end on the school’s football team.
His status as an American hero, however, was earned thousands of miles away during a combat mission in Ramadi, Iraq.
There, Monsoor made the ultimate sacrifice in September 2006, trading his life to save two of his fellow Navy SEALs by jumping on a live grenade. He was only 25 at the time.
On Friday, nearly 3,000 community members turned out to pay tribute to Monsoor, as the Garden Grove Unified School District formally dedicated its new athletic stadium in his honor. Guests included Monsoor’s friends and family, fellow Gold Star parents, Garden Grove school board members, local elected officials, and the captain and crew of the guided missile destroyer known as the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001).
For generations to come, the home field of the Garden Grove High Argonauts will also bear his name, as Michael A. Monsoor Memorial Stadium.
During the 30-minute ceremony, athletes from Garden Grove, Los Amigos and Santiago high schools honored the service of the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, who held the rank of petty officer second class, by unveiling the Navy SEAL trident on the field’s 50-yard line Friday. In addition, former Navy SEALs from the Patriot Parachute Team swooped down onto the field waving large American flags, and Navy Seahawk helicopters participated in a military flyover.
Keynote speaking duties were handled by Jason Booher, the founder and first commander of the Navy SEAL unit in Ramadi, Iraq. Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education President Lan Nguyen also presented Monsoor’s mother Sally with a football helmet signed by Monsoor’s former Garden Grove High teammates.
“We are so honored that this brand new stunning stadium will bear the name of Michael A. Monsoor – a beloved Argonaut and an American hero,” Nguyen said. “For our athletes, there is no higher honor than playing in a stadium dedicated to someone who lived his life for others and who ultimately gave his own life to save his Navy SEAL teammates.”
Garden Grove’s Vocal Ensemble performed the National Anthem, while Pacifica High School’s Navy JROTC presented the colors before the new stadium hosted it’s inaugural game — a matchup between Garden Grove High and Irvine’s Woodbridge High.
The Michael A. Monsoor Memorial Stadium was funded in part through Measure P, a $311 million bond measure approved by 76.4% of district voters in November. Completed this month, the state-of-the-art facility features 4,000 seats, a synthetic turf field, a nine-lane synthetic track, energy-efficient lighting, an LED scoreboard, a press box, restrooms and ticket booths.
There’s also a concession stand featuring a plaque that will forever honor Monsoor and his heroic actions on Sept. 29, 2006.