Raynham man's loss becomes country music inspiration

Thesong "I Drive Your Truck" performed by Lee Brice won Song of the Yearat the Country Music Awards in Nashville on Wednesday night.

Theinspiration for it came from Paul Monti, of Raynham, Mass., although he didn'tknow it.

Montilost his son, Jared, who was an Army sergeant and was killed in Afghanistan in2006 while trying to save the life of another soldier.

Tokeep his son's memory close, Paul Monti drives his truck.

Buthow that all came to be, one has to think there was a little extra help fromthe cosmos.

PaulMonti was not surprised by his son's actions.

"Hedid what his soul told him he had to do, which was to run out, through volumesof enemy gunfire, and try to save someone because that was the right thing todo," he said.

Asa way to push through the grief, Paul Monti went on a National Public Radiotalk show in 2011 to bring attention to Gold Star families, those who lost ason or daughter in war.{}On the program, to cope with the loss, he said hedrives his son's truck.

Notknown to Monti at the time, country music writer Connie Harrington waslistening to the program.

Inan interview on "Inside Music Row" from C.J.M. Productions, she recalled, "Hewas petitioning to put flags on his son's grave, and he just said the he drovehis son's truck to still feel close to him and described the truck. Andluckily, I had some Post-It notes and was writing the details down as quicklyas I could, and felt it would be a wonderful song idea."

Bricerecorded the song, all while the writers searched for Paul Monti.{}ThenMonti got a Facebook message and link to the video from the Gold Star mom ofthe soldier Monti's son tried to save.

"Iwondered how could anybody, you know, write a song like that?{} Yeah, itwas, it was like, wow, this is like Heaven-sent," Paul Monti said.

Thewriters finally tracked him down.{}Paul Monti was taken aback, at a lossfor words at the time.

"Sothey searched for me for two years," he said.

In2006, when Jared left the truck to go overseas, he left it as many men leavepickup trucks: some sneakers, a bottle of juice under the seat, coins in theashtray.

PaulMonti drives it without having spiffed-up the interior, although the engine hassince been replaced, and a new rear bumper is on the list of things to do.

"I'msurrounded by his aura and it's comfortable," he said. "It makes me crytoo."