On Thursday, the president will award Dakota Meyer, a former active duty Marine Corps corporal, the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on September 8, 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Here’s the Medal of Honor citation:
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CORPORAL DAKOTA L. MEYER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
For service as set forth in the following
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. When the forward element of his combat team began to be hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes above Ganjgal village, Corporal Meyer mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and Afghan soldiers. During a six hour fire fight, Corporal Meyer single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, saved 36 Marines and soldiers and recovered the bodies of his fallen brothers. Four separate times he fought the kilometer up into the heart of a deadly U-shaped ambush. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded, and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe. On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers. His second attack disrupted the enemy’s ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines. Switching to another gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and as turret gunner killed several Taliban attackers at point blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out. Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members. By his extraordinary heroism, presence of mind amidst chaos and death, and unselfish devotion to his comrades in the face of great danger, Corporal Meyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
And here’s an excerpt from a profile of Meyer in the Marine Corps Times by Dan Lamothe:
A team leader in the sniper platoon of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Meyer volunteered for the deployment to Afghanistan. He had deployed once previously to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007 and found it calm, he said.
He jumped at the opportunity to join the embedded training team instead of deploying with 3/3 to Iraq again. He had just completed a full pre-deployment workup with 3/3, but went through more training with the embedded training team after his battalion was ordered to provide a four-man sniper team to support it. His battalion left for Iraq while he stayed behind and prepared for a deployment to Afghanistan that began in July 2009. “It was a unique mission, and I wanted to go fight,” he said....
News of Meyer’s bravery doesn’t surprise the Marines he served with. They say his time in the Corps was marked by professionalism and dedication to his sniper craft.
Gunnery Sgt. Hector Soto-Rodriguez, his former platoon sergeant in 3/3, said he recommended Meyer for meritorious promotion to corporal because he was a natural leader. Even as a junior noncommissioned officer, he was actively involved in planning the platoon’s standard operating procedures.
“He was the ideal Marine that you want working for you,” said Soto-Rodriguez, now participating in a congressional fellowship in Washington with Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark. “He’s the type of guy that when the day was done and I’d go back to the barracks and brief the guys and leave them with their own time, he’d take his guys aside as a team leader and continue to teach them on his own time. He didn’t make it mandatory, but his Marines respected him. The guy was a magnet to his subordinates.”
Soto-Rodriguez said that when Meyer’s embedded training team was put together, 3/3 was told it needed to send one four-man team of snipers to Afghanistan. Meyer made it clear he wanted to go....
Meyer also was the best shot in 3/3’s sniper platoon and is highly competitive, said Capt. Brian Stanley, a prior-enlisted staff sergeant who served with Meyer in Iraq as an intelligence officer.
During one reconnaissance training mission in Hawaii, Meyer was supposed to hide and report the movement of a “high-value individual,” prompting the beginning of a helicopter raid, Stanley said. However, the target didn’t see Meyer lurking nearby, so he pounced, wrapped him up with a poncho and dragged him into the hiding site, eliminating the need for the raid.
“After reporting the capture of the HVI, he was informed that he needed to release him so that training could be conducted,” said Stanley....”
In interviews, Meyer always calls attention to those with whom he served, especially those who “gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.” Meyer says of the Medal of Honor: “If they give it to me, it’s not for me. It’s for those guys and their families.”
And so he would want any recognition of him also to pay tribute to those didn’t make it out alive from Ganjgal two years ago: Marine Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson, 31; Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30; Marine 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22; and Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, 41, who died Oct. 7, 2009, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington from medical complications related to wounds sustained in the attack.