Dakota Meyer, a former Marine Corps corporal, was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 36 US and Afghan troops pinned down in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2009.
Rather than stay at a relatively safe distance from an intense fire-fight in which fellow Marines, US Army soldiers, and Afghan soldiers had been caught in an ambush – which he had been ordered to do – Meyer went time and again into the killing zone. During the six-hour battle, he evacuated 12 of those pinned down, provided cover for another 24 to withdraw to safety, and killed at least eight Taliban fighters in the process.
Meyer is the third living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry are the other living recipients of the award. Seven Medal of Honor awards have been made posthumously for heroic action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meyer’s Medal of Honor citation details that day’s intense combat:
“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.”