History Wars Afghanistan War

Medal of Honor Monday: Corporal Dakota Meyer

Corporal Dakota Meyer is a former U.S. Marine. He received a Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan during the War on Terrorism.
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Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer is the first living Marine recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family and friends were gathered at the White House to commemorate his selfless service Sept. 15, 2011.

Corporal Dakota Louis Meyer is a United States Marine. He received a Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan during the War on Terrorism. He grew up in the small town of Columbia, Kentucky, and joined the Marine Corps in 2006. When he earned the Medal of Honor, Meyer served with the Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7.

Dakota Meyer’s Action in Afghanistan

In September 2009, Dakota Meyer was stationed in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. Then, on September 8, he gathered his gear and headed out to a patrol rally point just outside the village of Ganjgal. While Meyer stood watch at his station, other members of his platoon traveled into Ganjgal for an early meeting with local Afghan leadership. Soon after the service members departed, the rattle of machine guns echoed off the jagged mountain walls. Meyer heard explosions and suspected foul play.

He soon received word that enemy combatant had ambushed his fellow service members as they marched into Ganjgal. The Taliban had learned about the morning meeting, and several of its members had planned an armed assault against the Americans and their allies.

Ganjgal’s difficult terrain

Ganjgal is nestled steep in the hills of Afghanistan, where houses sit on treacherous cliffs above the winding roads. Enemy fighters had positioned themselves at high points on rooftops and in doorways. As the Americans entered, the members of the Taliban launched grenades down at the soldiers and fired on them with machine guns. With no helicopters to offer areal coverage that morning, the Americans were at a tactical disadvantage.

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Sgt. (then Cpl.) Dakota Meyer and Gunnery Sgt. (then-Staff Sgt.) Aaron Kenefick in Ganjgal Village, Kunar province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

At least three of Meyer’s comrades were missing. Others reported injuries. Meyer left his post at the rally point and attempted a rescue. As he crossed into Ganjgal, aggressive enemy fire shook the terrain. Dodging bullets, he pressed forward in search of this fellow servicemen. Eventually, he discovered several were dead. The Taliban had stripped the fallen American soldiers of their guns and radios.

One of the enemy combatants was attempting to carry the American bodies away just as Meyer arrived. Quickly, Meyer charged the combatant and subdued him by beating him with a large rock.

With the help of a few surviving Afghan soldiers, Meyer moved the bodies to a secure location. He then assisted other wounded military personnel. By the time the evacuation team arrived, Meyer had killed numerous Taliban fighters. He played a major part in ending the morning ambush and would be remembered for his significant role in the Battle of Ganjgal.

On September 15, 2011, President Obama awarded Corporal Meyer the Medal of Honor for his courageous action in Ganjgal. Meyer became the first living Marine to receive a Medal of Honor in nearly four decades.

Interested in learning more about other OIF and OEF veterans who have earned the Medal of Honor? Here’s a profile of an American service member who helped save the life of a hostage. Read more about the remarkable life of Dakota Meyer here.