National Hero Monte Melkonian would turn 63 today. Monte was a thinker and a writer, as well as a man of deeds. He was not afraid to speak the truth as he saw it.
Throughout his lifetime he struggled for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the protection of the rights of Armenians.
Monte Melkonian was born in California’s San Joaquin Valley on November 25, 1957. A trained archaeologist who spoke eight languages, he spent his entire adult life working for justice and defending Armenians in Iran, Lebanon, and Armenia.
Melkonian was known as Avo to the troops under his command in Nagorno-Karabakh. The last years of his life were spent fighting with the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army.
“If we lose Artsakh, we will turn the last page of the Armenian people’s history,” he would say.
He believed that the best outcome for Artsakh would be to unite with Armenia.
Monte was killed in the abandoned village of Merzili in the early afternoon of June 12, 1993 during the Battle of Aghdam.
After death he was awarded the highest military honors of Nagorno Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia, including the Military Cross, First Degree and the Golden Eagle medal.
Monte was buried with full military honors on June 19, 1993 at Yerablur Military Pantheon in the outskirts of Yerevan, where his coffin was brought from the Surb Zoravar Church in the city center.
In 1993 the Monte Melkonian Military Academy was established in Yerevan.