Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti’s father had no idea he was the inspiration behind a No. 1 Billboard country hit.
It was Memorial Day weekend two years ago, and Paul Monti was interviewed on the radio about his son, who was killed June 21, 2006, in Afghanistan and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor.
Connie Harrington, a Nashville-based songwriter, was listening in her car.
“He mentioned that he drives his son’s truck as a way to feel close to him,” Harrington said. “I was just really moved that he still drove his son’s truck. Even though it burns a lot of gas, he didn’t care.”
Harrington, whose father served in the Army and was a POW in the Philippines for about 18 months, didn’t catch Paul Monti’s name, but she quickly jotted down some notes.
“I’m crying and trying not to drive off the road, writing on these Post-It notes on my steering wheel,” she said.
Armed with those notes, Harrington, Jessi Alexander and Jimmy Yeary wrote “I Drive Your Truck,” and began to shop it around to recording studios and artists.
Before long, country singer Lee Brice recorded the song, and it was released in December 2012, the third single off his album “Hard 2 Love.”
All that time, Harrington said she couldn’t figure out the identity of the man she’d heard on the radio.
Brice’s record company even tried to track down the man, but it wasn’t until Harrington began “digging and digging on the Internet” that she finally put a name to the voice on the radio.
The songwriters tracked down Paul Monti by phone.
“I don’t know what he thought we were calling him for,” Harrington said. “We told him, ‘You inspired the song. We’ve been trying to find you for quite some time.’ It was a wonderful, very emotional phone call.”
Jared Monti, of 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, was killed while trying to save one of his soldiers, Pfc. Brian Bradbury, who was pinned down by fierce enemy fire.
Both men died that day.
“I had no idea,” Harrington said. “It just was crazy.”
Paul Monti told them he first heard the song at the recommendation of Bradbury’s mother – without either of them knowing Paul Monti’s words had inspired the song.
Harrington said she also found out the day they finished writing the song, June 21, 2011, was “the anniversary of when Jared and Brian lost their lives.”
On May 13, Harrington will meet Paul Monti at a party in Nashville to celebrate the song reaching the top of the charts.
“We’re very excited and honored,” Harrington said. “It’s been a very emotional song for everybody.”
Check out the song here:
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Seen Jared some days while in same unit of 82nd ABN 3-319th. Jared was always good natured and easy to get a smile out of. He is missed by many.
It still makes my chest ache to see Jared’s truck in the driveway when I visit home. …by the way, he drove a Dodge.
My daughter was the same way about her husband’s truck. Skoal can and all. Her husband was also killed in action. This song is so very raw and beautiful that I am not only crying but actually sobbing. Cudos for catching a moment in time perfectly.
Jared was the best dance partner I ever had! It’s hard not to miss him!
I love this song, it brings tears to my eyes everytime I hear it.
I served with Jared Monti in Kosovo back in 1999-2000. I was in B Co, 3-504th IN, 82nd ABN serving as a COMMO SGT, he was attached to my company as our Forward Observer.
When I first heard this some, I cried my eyes out, literally! Its a great song and very moving. Every time I hear it, i think about one of my close army buddy, SSG Bruzgis, i miss you buddy. :’)
I wish we all had a truck. It’s a fitting scene to leave the tears in.
Same goes for my son Rick, I feel the same way when I drive his truck.. He was killed in Afghanistan 18 May 2010..