These days it seems heroes are hard to find. The nation is mired in debt, the poverty rate is the highest it has been since sometime in the 1990’s, unemployment is rampant, food stamp usage is at an all time high and all our elected leaders seem to do is point fingers at one another looking to place blame.
And then, along comes a guy by the name of Dakota Meyer. He’s just a simple Marine that will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony to be held at the White House on September 15, 2011.
Here’s the text of the citation that will be read in his honor.
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."
All in all Dakota Meyer was credited with saving 36 lives and recoving the bodies of 5 his fellow warriors.
I’m not a big fan of the war but having served my time in the peace time suck many years ago I can still feel a sense of pride in the adage that “once a Marine, always a Marine” rings true. Not only did Dakota Meyer distinguish himself on the field of battle but he managed to remain humble about his exploits as well as evidenced by the following quotes.
On his fallen comrades:
"I would do it a hundred times.”I wish I could have kept them alive.”
"I was only doing what Marines do…I’m the furthest thing from a hero,” he says, “if this is what it feels like to be a hero you can have it. "What gives me the right to be standing here today and not their kids? I feel like I failed them and I failed their families.”
On those that he rescued :
He says he wasn’t counting how many lives he saved that day in Ganjgal.“I couldn’t tell you, I see numbers come out all the time, there, three or four sets of numbers , but I don’t think numbers really matter.”
“I wasn’t really thinking I could die…I can’t speak for him ( a fellow jarhead), but I know, I never thought I was going to come out.”
"The only thing I was focused on was getting those guys out of there.”
“I guess what’s stuck in my mind is you either get guys out alive or you die trying, if you didn’t die trying, you didn’t try hard enough.”
To me, maybe the most endearing part of Mr. Dakota’s persona was his request that on the same day he receives his just recognition, he’s requested that each of his fallen comrade’s home towns hold a ceremony in their honor.
/me:wipes a tear from his eye
Semper Fi Marine!