CORPORAL DAKOTA L. MEYER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
For service as set forth in the followingFor conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. 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.
Meyer was born June 26, 1988 in Columbia, Kentucky where he grew up and attended school. In 2006, after graduation from Green County High School, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at a recruiting station in Louisville, Kentucky and was sent to Recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. After completing training to be a United States Marine he deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007 as a Scout Sniper with 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines. He gained national attention for his actions in Afghanistan during his second deployment in Kunar province with Embedded Training Team 2-8. On September 8, 2009, near the village of Ganjgal, Meyer learned that three U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman were missing after being ambushed by a group of insurgents. He charged into an area known to be inhabited by insurgents and under enemy fire. Meyer eventually found all four dead and stripped of their weapons, body armor, and radios. With the help of some friendly Afghan soldiers, he moved the bodies to a safer area where they could be extracted. During his search, Meyer "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." Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos told reporters during a visit to Camp Pendleton, California, that a living Marine had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. Two days later, Marine Corps Times, an independent newspaper covering U.S. Marine operations, reported that the unnamed individual was Meyer, citing anonymous sources. CNN confirmed the story independently two days later. On June 9, 2011, the Marine Corps announced that two other Marines on Meyer's team in Ganjgal would receive the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for valor a Marine can receive. Capt. Ademola D. Fabayo and Staff Sgt. Juan J. Rodriguez-Chavez were recognized for their roles in retrieving the Marines and corpsman. Before Meyer went looking for the missing men on foot, Rodriguez-Chavez drove a gun truck into the kill zone, with Fabayo manning its machine gun. When President Barack Obama's staff called Meyer to set up a time for the President to inform him that his case for the Medal of Honor had been approved, Meyer was working at his construction job and asked if they could please call him back when he was on his lunch break, which they later did. Dakota then returned to work.[ Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on September 15, 2011. When a White House staffer contacted Meyer to arrange the ceremony, the former Marine asked if he could have a beer with the President. He then received an invitation to the White House the afternoon before the ceremony. Meyer also requested that when he was honored, simultaneous commemorative services should be held at other associated locations to honor the memory of his colleagues who died or were mortally wounded during the ambush and his rescue attempts.
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