June 12 is the commemoration day of Monte (Avo) Melkonian Armenia’s national hero, hero of Artsakh, active participant of the Artsakh war, commander, lieutenant colonel of the Armenian Army (1994, posthumously) and an active participant of the Lebanon civil war.
Monte Melkonian was born on November 25, 1957 at Visalia Municipal Hospital in Visalia, California in an armenian familiy who sirvived the Genocide against Aremnians.
At the age of 20 he studied at the Berkeley University in California and graduated with a double title. While studying at the university he establashed “Armenian Student Union”. In 1978, he entered the Oxford University, but did not finish, went to Lebanon during the civil war (around 3 years) and took part in the defensive battle of the Armenian quarter of Beirut. He was the leader of an offshoot of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) in the 1980s and the most celebrated commander during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in the early 1990s. He was arrested in Paris in November 1985, and sentenced to six years in prison for possession of falsified papers and carrying an illegal handgun. On February 4, 1992 Melkonian arrived in Martuni as the regional commander. Upon his arrival the changes were immediately felt: civilians started feeling more secure and at peace as Azeri armies were pushed back and were finding it increasingly difficult to shell Martuni’s residential areas.
The Monte Melkonian Foundation was established in Yerevan in 1994. Monte Melkonian Military College was named after him. His monument is located in Martuni, NKR. Monte was killed in the abandoned Azerbaijani village of Merzili in the early afternoon of June 12, 1993 during the Battle of Aghdam. He was buried at Yerablur cemetery in Yerevan.