Dakota Meyer sounds like the kind of guy you want having your back. The former Marine will receive the Medal of Honor today at the White House for saving 36 lives during a firefight in the Kunar Province in Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.
Meyer’s story reads like a movie: His unit was in a remote village to train some Afghan soldiers when the lights went out and the hillsides lit up with gunfire. It turns out it was a Taliban ambush, with about 50 insurgents dug in and taking aim at the exposed Marines and their trainees with rifles and RPGs.
With his friends pinned down, Meyer requested to head into the heavy fire and mount a rescue. After being denied four times, Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez jumped into an armored Humvee and headed out to collect their colleagues. In all, Meyer took part in five trips into the kill zone, rescuing 13 Marines and 23 Afghan soldiers and catching some shrapnel in his arm for his trouble. He also made a risky move to recover the bodies of four of his friends who were killed during the fight. Sounds like a hero to me, as were the Marines who were by his side during his many trips into danger.
In America, the heroes get more than medals – they get beer. In Meyer’s case, he shared a cold one with President Obama over the weekend as they discussed the plans for today’s ceremony. Showing his character, Meyer has also requested that the fallen soldiers from the gunfight be memorialized today as well, and the military will be holding ceremonies in their hometowns.
Meyer’s commanders from that day won’t be receiving any medals. After an investigation into what happened, two officers were reprimanded for being “inadequate and ineffective” and for “contributing directly to the loss of life.” In all, five American soldiers died that day, four of which were Meyer’s good friends.