The Military Times brings us word that a third living soldier will receive the Medal of Honor. He is Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer, 22, a scout sniper who left active duty in June 2010, and now resides in Austin, Texas.
Meyer was on a mission to meet with tribal elders in Afghanistan, in a village close to the Pakistani border, on September 8, 2009. They came under attack from heavily armed insurgents who outnumbered them more than four to one. Frantic pleas for artillery support were refused, leading to letters of reprimand for several of the officers in charge of the operation.
The officers might have been negligent, but Cpl. Meyer was amazing:
Meyer, then 21, went into the kill zone on foot after helicopter pilots called on to respond said they could not help retrieve the four missing service members because the fighting on the ground was too fierce, according to a witness statement he provided the military. He found his buddies in a trench where pilots had spotted them.
“I checked them all for a pulse. There [sic] bodies were already stiff,” Meyer said in a sworn statement he was asked to provide military investigators. “I found SSgt Kenefick facedown in the trench w/ his GPS in his hand. His face appeared as if he were screaming. He had been shot in the head.”
Meyer was already suffering from shrapnel wounds at the time. He nevertheless assisted in the retrieval of the bodies. All four of the fallen soldiers were subsequently honored with Bronze Stars.
Two other Marines involved in the battle were awarded the Navy Cross for their heroic actions. Captain Ademola Fabayo threw himself into close-quarters battle with the insurgents, and carried a wounded comrade to safety. Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez made three trips into the kill zone with a Humvee, while Cpl. Meyer manned its machine gun turret. Meyer went into the zone on foot when they couldn’t find the missing men from the Humvee.
During the award ceremony for Capt. Fabayo and Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said their story “doesn’t need any other explanation… whatever words there are, they’re not adequate in adding anything to the actions of that day.”
True, but words are how we share the incredible treasures of courage our nation has been blessed with. They are how we remember the heroes we have lost, and give thanks for those who made it home. Corporal Dakota Meyer will be the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. Spread the word.