This article was produced in partnership with Pendleton Whisky
“I got your six” is a phrase that’s been around for more than a century. It was first coined by American fighter pilots in World War I.
Soldiers used clock positioning to inform direction. For example, twelve o’clock is straight in front of you and six o’clock is right behind you. So, when a WWI fighter pilot said, “I got your six,” it meant, “I got your back.” Enemy pilots would try to get behind your tail and shoot you down, but you trusted your wingman to protect your “six.”
As a former recon marine and retired US Navy SEAL Officer, I have many stories of amazing men and women who have picked me up, covered for me, and protected my “six.” I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them—but one story in particular stands out.
It was September 29, 2006 (Saint Michael’s Day), during the Battle of Ramadi. It was one of the most violent battles of the Iraq War, and I was in command of a 12-man element comprising four Navy SEALs and eight Iraqi scouts. The mission was to provide sniper overwatch support for the famed 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment—the same unit from the HBO series Band of Brothers—as they cleared a highly contested district of the city. We snuck into the enemy-held district during the middle of the night and set up sniper positions on the third-story roof of a prominent building. When the sun rose, we were engaged in sporadic gunfights with Al Qaeda insurgents that remained throughout the day.
About mid-day, Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor, known as “Mikey” by our entire SEAL Platoon, assumed security. A SEAL was located three feet to his left, and I was three feet to his right. An enemy combatant utilized cover and concealment to sneak close enough to our position, then hurled a grenade onto the roof. The grenade barely cleared the lip of the wall, striking Mikey in the chest before settling on the ground. Mikey yelled, “Grenade!” and without hesitation jumped on it to absorb the blast. The other SEAL and I were wounded from shrapnel to the legs, but we survived because of Mikey.