published Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Dakota Meyer of Kentucky becomes first living Marine since Vietnam to be awarded the Medal of Honor

In this undated photo released by the U.S. Marines, Sgt. Dakota Meyer poses for a photo while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Ganjgal Village, Kunar province, Afghanistan. The White House announced the 23-year-old Marine scout sniper from Columbia, Ky., who has since left the Marine Corps, will become the first living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor in decades for his actions in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/U.S. Marines)
In this undated photo released by the U.S. Marines, Sgt. Dakota Meyer poses for a photo while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Ganjgal Village, Kunar province, Afghanistan. The White House announced the 23-year-old Marine scout sniper from Columbia, Ky., who has since left the Marine Corps, will become the first living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor in decades for his actions in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/U.S. Marines)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Dakota Meyer saved 36 lives from an ambush in Afghanistan and the former Marine will collect the nation's highest military honor at the White House on Thursday. While he is receiving the Medal of Honor, Meyer's slain comrades will be memorialized in hometown ceremonies at his request.

His hero's moment was his darkest day. Meyer lost some of his best friends the morning of Sept. 8, 2009, in far-off Kunar Province.

"It's hard, it's ... you know ... getting recognized for the worst day of your life, so it's... it's a really tough thing," Meyer said, struggling for words.

Meyer charged through heavy insurgent gunfire on five death-defying trips in an armored Humvee to save 13 Marines and Army soldiers and another 23 Afghan troops pinned down by withering enemy fire. Meyer personally killed at least eight insurgents despite taking a shrapnel wound to one arm as he manned the gun turret of the Humvee and provided covering fire for the soldiers, according to the military.

President Barack Obama will bestow the medal at a White House ceremony. The two have also met privately, having a beer on a patio outside the Oval Office on Wednesday.

"Over the weekend, the President's staff called Meyer in preparation for Thursday's Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House. Meyer asked the staffer if he could have a beer with the President. POTUS invited Dakota to come by the White House this afternoon," spokesman Jay Carney tweeted.

In Afghanistan, Meyer was part of a security team supporting a patrol moving into a village in the Ganjgal Valley on the day of the ambush.

Meyer and the other Americans had gone to the area to train Afghan military members when, suddenly, the village lights went out and gunfire erupted. About 50 Taliban insurgents on mountainsides and in the village had ambushed the patrol.

As the forward team took fire and called for air support that wasn't coming, Meyer, a corporal at the time, begged his command to let him head into the incoming fire to help.

Four times he was denied his request before Meyer and another Marine, Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, jumped into the Humvee and headed into the fray. For his valor, Rodriguez-Chavez, a 34-year-old who hailed originally from Acuna, Mexico, would be awarded the Navy Cross.

"They told him he couldn't go in," said Dwight Meyer, Dakota Meyer's 81-year-old grandfather, a former Marine who served in the 1950s. "He told them, 'The hell I'm not,' and he went in. It's a one-in-a-million thing" that he survived.

With Meyer manning the Humvee's gun turret, the two drew heavy fire. But they began evacuating wounded Marines and American and Afghan soldiers to a safe point. Meyer made five trips into the kill zone, each time searching for the forward patrol with his Marine friends — including 1st Lt. Michael Johnson — whom Meyer had heard yelling on the radio for air support.

With Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez ready to test fate a fifth time in the kill zone, a UH-60 helicopter arrived at last to provide overhead support. Troops aboard the chopper told Meyer they had spotted what appeared to be four bodies. Meyer knew those were his friends and he had to bring them out.

"It might sound crazy, but it was just, you don't really think about it, you don't comprehend it, you don't really comprehend what you did until looking back on it," Meyer said.

Wounded and tired, Meyer left the relative safety of the Humvee and ran out on foot.

"He just really took a chance," Dwight Meyer said.

Ducking around buildings to avoid heavy gunfire, he reached the bodies of Johnson, a 25-year-old from Virginia Beach; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.; Corpsman James Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif.; and Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., a 31-year-old gunnery sergeant from Columbus, Ga.

Meyer and two other soldiers dodged bullets and rocket-propelled grenades to pull the bodies out of a ditch where the men had died while trying to take cover.

The deaths of Meyer's comrades prompted an investigation into events that day, and two Army officers were later reprimanded for being "inadequate and ineffective" and for "contributing directly to the loss of life." Along with Meyer's friends, a fifth American — Army Sgt. Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, N.M. — was fatally wounded in the ambush.

Meyer said he'll be humbled by the memory of his fallen comrades as he receives the award Thursday. One of the memorials will be at a Columbus cemetery for gunnery sergeant Johnson, a father of three who served nearly 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Will Duke, one of the organizers, said the memorials spoke volumes about Meyer.

"I can tell by his actions, not only the actions he took in earning the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan but also the actions he is taking now. Essentially by requesting these memorial services for his fallen comrades, he's saying this is about them," Duke said.

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holdout said...

BZ Corporal. There is a lot more to this story and most of it can be found on Stars and Stripes. It is a shame that Army Captain William Swenson was shafted by the Army in this incident. It is a bigger shame that the air support and artillery support they should have received was denied by a pack of PC mouth-breathing REMFs who then tried to shaft these brave men to hide their own incompetence.

September 15, 2011 at 8:22 a.m.
librul said...

Beautiful, beautiful country; ugly, ugly war.

September 15, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.
01centare said...

All wars are ugly. If modern man were truly civilized wars would have long become obsolete.

Today it's for poppy and O.I.L. Tomorrow it will be something else. ALWAYS.

September 15, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
XGSBoss said...

L4F, I can only assume you are a libertarian by your handle. Going by that assumption, do you have any idea what a libertarian is? Does you pea brain comprehend that wars fought by a government are absolutely contrary to being a libertarian?

On another note, I thank the President for finding time to personally have a beer with this man of steel among mortals. He pours concrete now, I only hope he is using his GOVERNMENT SUPPLIED G.I. BILL to further his education to make a well deserved comfortable life for himself and his future family.

September 15, 2011 at 1:34 p.m.
01centare said...

I can't believe war haters would be commenting here.

Hey, Lib4, I hate neither wars nor the warriors who are sent to fight'em. I'm just disgusted with greedy, corrupt leaders who lie and lie again to get'em started.

That,create civilization and keepin'em safe is one of the better lies told to the masses over and over, Lib4.

September 15, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.
nebrakadesra said...

Libertarian, you, sir, are a moron.

"You think Rome would have been a great empire just with aqueducts and public baths?"

You basically just proved a point that wars are ugly. Rome was a great empire because they annihilated or assimilated populations and claimed their lands for Rome. That is not civilization, that is brutal violence and unadulterated greed. If you want to talk about civilization, take a look back to the neolithic period of human history. Violence did not exist in most regions of the world and yet they prospered beyond what modern minds could imagine. Oh, and I just thought I would let you know that Socrates did not believe in "might makes right". You may want to consider educating yourself before using him in your pro-war argument.

September 15, 2011 at 2:46 p.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Holdout is right. There is a lot more to this story. Fortunately, a McClatchey reporter, Jonathan Landay, was with them and survived to tell. Over the summer of 2009, there were a couple of mishaps where we accidentally hit several civilians during air strikes. This was a set up and when the troops called for back up in air support and artillery, US Commanders rejected their pleas. Afghani leaked the information on the troops to the insurgents. From McClatchey : "U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines — despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village."

It was a mess and the surviving troops had to use WP -Willie Pete- to escape from the area. I wrote about the 7 fallen for IGTNT - I Got the News Today. I am grateful for Sgt. Dakota Meyer's courage and strength. Semper Fidelis, Sgt Meyer. You deserve this Medal of Honor.

Here is the lMcClactchey Article "We're pinned down " Tribute to the fallen -IGTNT: Farewell to Seven Heroes

September 15, 2011 at 4:34 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

L4F wrote " I can't believe war haters would be commenting here." This sounds like something someone would say who has never been down range. Trust me SGT Meyer doesn't like war, no one I know likes war. So for you to make that statement begs the question; Why aren't you here?

September 15, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
hambone said...

L4F your chicken-hawk is showing!!

September 15, 2011 at 7:54 p.m.
Legend said...

hambone said... L4F your chicken-hawk is showing!!

LOL!! Exposed!! Only the man who would glorify war is the man who has never gone into battle nor had to watch another man{man or woman} die in one.

September 15, 2011 at 9:56 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

In other words, if you can't do...criticize those who can.

September 16, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.
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