09 November 2010

Marine recommended for Medal of Honor

ZUI this article from the Marine Corps Times:
The Marine Corps has recommended that a former corporal receive the Medal of Honor for braving a hail of enemy fire in September 2009 to pull the bodies of four U.S. troops from a kill zone in eastern Afghanistan, Marine Corps Times has learned.

Dakota Meyer, 22, of Greensburg, Ky., was recommended for the nation’s highest award for valor, according to a source with knowledge of the process, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Meyer could become the first living Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Only one Marine, Cpl. Jason Dunham, has received the award for actions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was honored posthumously after throwing himself on a grenade in Karabilah, Iraq, in 2004 to save the lives of fellow Marines.


Meyer was recommended for his actions on Sept. 8, 2009, near the village of Ganjgal in Kunar province. He charged into a kill zone on foot and alone to find three missing Marines and a Navy corpsman who had been pinned down under enemy fire for hours by about 150 well-armed insurgents. Already wounded by shrapnel before braving enemy fire, he found them dead and stripped of their gear and weapons, and carried them out of the kill zone with the help of Afghan soldiers, according to military documents obtained by Marine Corps Times.

Reached for comment Monday, Meyer was unaware he has been recommended for the Medal of Honor, saying he does not feel like a hero and still dwells on what happened that day. He was a member of Embedded Training Team 2-8 training Afghan forces when the ambush occurred, and good friends with the troops he pulled from the kill zone. He left the Corps in June after his four-year contract with the service expired.


A spokesman for [Marine Corps Commandant General Jim] Amos ... declined to discuss the recommendation Monday, saying it is Marine Corps policy to handle deliberations over awards internally until the Defense Department makes an announcement. A spokeswoman for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Capt. Beci Brenton, declined to comment.

If approved by Mabus, the nomination would be pushed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. With his approval, it would go to President Obama. Traditionally, Marine Corps approval is considered the largest hurdle in the nomination process.


Killed in the battle were Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson, 31; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22. A U.S. soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, 41, died Oct. 7, 2009, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington from medical complications tied to wounds he sustained in the attack. About a dozen Afghan soldiers in training with U.S. forces also were cut down by gunfire, according to military documents outlining the attack.


In a five-page hand-written statement ... Meyer describes attempting to get to his missing buddies with another service member and being turned back by enemy fire at least twice in an armored vehicle equipped with a .50-caliber machine gun. He was wounded by shrapnel after an enemy rifle round hit the vehicle’s gun turret, he says in the statement.

Meyer, then 21, went into the kill zone on foot after helicopter pilots called on to respond said they could not help because the fighting on the ground was too fierce, the statement said. He found his buddies in a trench where the pilots had spotted them.

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