FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 25, 2016) — Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, was a field artillery forward observer whose name is now displayed on the Fires Center of Excellence Mission Simulation Center.
Monti was killed in action, June 21, 2006, in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, when his 16-man patrol was attacked. While Monti cannot continue to make his own legacy, each year 11,000 Soldiers go through the simulation center, often called Monti Hall, helping to take the legacy of Monti out of the past and into the future.
“Basic trainees, second lieutenants, captains, lieutenant colonels, they all come through the building,” said Shannon Judnic, chief of the center. “Fort Sill’s Monti Hall is the only place within the Army with the ability to provide immersive training.”
Judnic said immersive training gives Soldiers the sights and sounds of what it would be like training in the field or in a deployed environment without having to load up Soldiers and equipment and physically relocate. Instead, Soldiers and their instructors can conduct training at one of the 100-plus simulators in the building. Simulated environments include being in a Middle Eastern urban location, another puts trainees in an outdoor rocky terrain. One simulation can even change the temperature of the room to extremes, giving Soldiers the feeling of being in the actual environment in all ways except one — smell.
Each environment features a screen (sometimes multiple screens) on which the terrain is projected. Meanwhile, civilian operators can change the environment the Soldiers see to include rain and snow, buildings, aircraft and even enemy forces approaching from behind.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nestell, senior instructor at the hall, knew Monti from when they attended advanced leadership course together. Nestell said the hall is a tribute to Monti as a Soldier and also as a leader. By bringing at times, untrained Soldiers into the building and molding them into leaders in their field, Monti’s legacy continues through the Soldiers trained in his hall.
“We have this saying about captains and lieutenants,” said Nestell. “We put them in our pocket and carry them around feeding them until they’re able to go out on their own. I think that’s a good analogy. This building takes in Soldiers and carries them and when they finish the class they’ll be able to go out on their own and do something when they leave this building’s door.”
Ross Cox, a former Soldier who served with Monti from 2003-2004, said it is his hope that Soldiers attending training at the hall will take a moment to remember the person behind the name.
“I don’t want the new guys to be walking into some hall,” said Cox. “I don’t want this to just be some training facility they have to come to. I want them to know that Jared Monti was a man that was an American hero.”
Cox said knowing the building is helping to train current Soldiers to do tasks in the future is how the legacy of Monti is able to continue. Monti’s friends and families are not limited to remember the past, but continue to be reminded of the impact Monti is making despite his absence.
“I have a lot of friends that were in (Monti’s) platoon that would appreciate knowing what’s going on with the Fires Center and how Monti Hall is creating a way for Monti’s legacy to be about continually leading Soldiers,” said Cox. “He’s continuing to teach and train Soldiers like a good NCO.”