A Huge shout out to Sgt. Dakota Meyer.
President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on Thursday to a former Marine who in 2009 made five death-defying forays into a “killing zone” in Afghanistan’s Ganjgal Valley to save three dozen American and Afghan troops.
A full moon was drenching the mountains in ghostly light as some 60 Afghan soldiers, 20 border police officers, 13 Marine and U.S. Army trainers and I set out for Ganjgal at 3 a.m. from the U.S. base in the Shakani District,” McClatchy national security reporter Jonathan Landay, who was embedded with the unit at the time, reported in September 2009.
The team was ambushed and came under sustained Taliban fire and rocket attack. However, U.S. commanders repeatedly denied the request to unleash artillery rounds and provide air cover, under rules of engagement then recently put in place to reduce civilian casualties.
“U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines—despite being told repeatedly that they weren’t near the village,” Landay reported. “We waited more than an hour for U.S. helicopters to arrive, despite earlier assurances that air cover would be five minutes away.”
By the time helicopters arrived, four U.S. Marines had been killed, as well as eight Afghan troops and the U.S. Marine commander’s Afghan interpreter. Meyer risked his life to retrieve their bodies.
“Over the course of a six-hour fire-fight, without regard for his own personal safety, Meyer entered the kill zone five separate times to evacuate the wounded, provide essential aid and, ultimately, saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers in addition to 23 Afghan soldiers,” the Marine Corps wrote in a summary of Meyer’s heroic actions meriting the citation. “Meyer personally killed at least eight Taliban insurgents, while providing cover for his team to fight their way out and escape certain death.”