Tribute: Heroic Marine Drove Into Kill Zone to Rescue 36 Ambushed Comrades, Receives Medal of Honor

BY Michael Wing TIMEJuly 8, 2020 PRINT

A patriotic U.S. charity paid tribute to a heroic Marine on Monday, following the recent July 4 weekend.

On a Facebook post, the charitable organization Wreaths Around America (WAA) told the story of former Marine Corporal and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer.

Meyer saved the lives of 36 U.S. and Afghan troops who were pinned down in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2009, Christian Science Monitor reported.

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Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer is the first living Marine recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  (Lance Cpl. Daniel Wetzel/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2011, Meyer was awarded the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for his act of heroism—even though he disobeyed orders in the process. On their Facebook tribute, Medal of Honor Monday, WAA shared the heroic act that earned him that award.

The story goes like this:

It was 2009 in Afghanistan when then-Corporal Meyer had been manning a security point near the village of Ganjgal.

Other members of his team and two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police advanced on foot into the village for a predawn meeting with village elders.

The group was soon ambushed by over 50 enemy fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), mortars, and machineguns.

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Sgt. Dakota Meyer in a HMMWV in Afghanistan (DVIDSHUB)

Upon hearing over the radio that his team members were cut off, Meyer sprang into action with a fellow Marine. Meyer manned the turret of a gun truck, while the other man drove; and they joined the fight in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and rescue their comrades.

Disregarding enemy fire, Meyer killed at least 8 Taliban fighters with his mounted machinegun and rife, as he and his driver made several solo trips into the kill zone to rescue their stranded team members.

They evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers during the first two trips. When one machinegun became inoperable, they returned and switched to another gun truck and then went back into harm’s way.

Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Meyer then made two more trips into danger, in a third gun truck, this time accompanied by four Afghan vehicles to rescue more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for missing U.S. troops.

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Sgt. Dakota Meyer while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Ganjgal Village, Kunar province, Afghanistan. (DVIDSHUB)

Under heavy fire, Meyer dismounted the truck and went on foot to recover the bodies of his fellow 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,” WAA concluded on their Facebook post.

Notably, Meyer had disregarded orders to man his station, which was a safe distance from the battle, by entering the ambush zone time after time to rescue his comrades, according to Christian Science Monitor.

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(From left to right) HM3 James Leyton, Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, and Sgt. Dakota Meyer with Afghan National Army members in Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (DVIDSHUB)

Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 15, 2011. He was the first living Marine to receive the award for acts of bravery in Afghanistan, and there have been 17 in all to date.

Wreaths Across America share inspirational stories of veterans as part of their mission to “remember, honor and teach” younger generations “about the value of their freedoms, and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms.”

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Former active-duty Marine Corps Corporal and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer salutes during the playing of the national anthem in his hometown in Greensburg, Kentucky. (Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

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Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
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