Former Marine Dakota Meyer Awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

This Fark.com headline is succint:

Marine being awarded the Medal of Honor for saving 36 of his fellow soldiers has asked that the day be marked by memorial services for the 4 he couldn’t save “It’s hard, … getting recognized for the worst day of your life”

The link goes to a story about former Marine Dakota Meyer, who today was awarded the highest honor in the American military, the Congressional Medal of Honor. But at his request, on the exact same day, memorial services were held for the four friends that he couldn’t save even though he risked his life to retrieve their bodies while under fire.

From the article, the summary of his heroism:

Meyer charged through heavy insurgent gunfire on five death-defying trips in an armored Humvee to save 13 Marines and Army soldiers and another 23 Afghan troops pinned down by withering enemy fire. Meyer personally killed at least eight insurgents despite taking a shrapnel wound to one arm as he manned the gun turret of the Humvee and provided covering fire for the soldiers, according to the military.

The incredible details:

Meyer and the other Americans had gone to the area to train Afghan military members when, suddenly, the village lights went out and gunfire erupted. About 50 Taliban insurgents on mountainsides and in the village had ambushed the patrol.

As the forward team took fire and called for air support that wasn’t coming, Meyer, a corporal at the time, begged his command to let him head into the incoming fire to help.

Four times he was denied his request before Meyer and another Marine, Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, jumped into the Humvee and headed into the fray. For his valor, Rodriguez-Chavez, a 34-year-old who hailed originally from Acuna, Mexico, would be awarded the Navy Cross.

“They told him he couldn’t go in,” said Dwight Meyer, Dakota Meyer’s 81-year-old grandfather, a former Marine who served in the 1950s. “He told them, ‘The hell I’m not,’ and he went in. It’s a one-in-a-million thing” that he survived.

With Meyer manning the Humvee’s gun turret, the two drew heavy fire. But they began evacuating wounded Marines and American and Afghan soldiers to a safe point. Meyer made five trips into the kill zone, each time searching for the forward patrol with his Marine friends — including 1st Lt. Michael Johnson — whom Meyer had heard yelling on the radio for air support.

With Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez ready to test fate a fifth time in the kill zone, a UH-60 helicopter arrived at last to provide overhead support. Troops aboard the chopper told Meyer they had spotted what appeared to be four bodies. Meyer knew those were his friends and he had to bring them out.

“It might sound crazy, but it was just, you don’t really think about it, you don’t comprehend it, you don’t really comprehend what you did until looking back on it,” Meyer said.

Wounded and tired, Meyer left the relative safety of the Humvee and ran out on foot.

“He just really took a chance,” Dwight Meyer said.

Ducking around buildings to avoid heavy gunfire, he reached the bodies of Johnson, a 25-year-old from Virginia Beach; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.; Corpsman James Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif.; and Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., a 31-year-old gunnery sergeant from Columbus, Ga.

Meyer and two other soldiers dodged bullets and rocket-propelled grenades to pull the bodies out of a ditch where the men had died while trying to take cover.

Amazing. Simply amazing. Most of us cannot even begin to comprehend the commitment and sacrifice that these guys live and breathe every day.

My sincere thanks to the former Marine Dakota Meyer for bravery way beyond the call of duty and for risking his life FIVE separate times to save his comrades and to retrieve the bodies of his friends, my sincere condolences to him on the loss of his friends, and my sincere condolences to the families of the five who died serving their country and the cause of freedom.

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