Friday, September 16, 2011

Medal of Honor: Sergeant Dakota Meyer, U.S. Marine Corps

For only the second time since the Vietnam War, a member of the U.S. Armed Forces has survived to receive his Medal of Honor in person rather than posthumously.

Sergeant Dakota Meyer, USMC, was presented with the nation's highest award for valor by President Obama, and judging from what I have read about his actions, he deserves it and then some.

Here is his citation:
Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner's position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer's daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy's attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
I continue to live in awe of these seemingly ordinary men who, when called, did something extraordinary. I am also happy to see that in an age when every kid gets a trophy, and even when the criteria to receive some lower military awards, such as the Bronze Star, have been watered down, the criteria for receiving the Medal of Honor are as exacting as they have ever been. The combat in Iraq and Afghanistan has dragged on for almost exactly 10 years now, and in that time, only 10 Medals of Honor have been awarded, for an average of one per year.

My hat is off to Sgt Dakota Meyer. Well done!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

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