Dakota Meyer and the Battle of Ganjgal
On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, Marine Corporal Dakota L. Meyer and his team were ambushed by more than 50 Taliban fighters in the village of Ganjgal in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Over the course of the six-hour battle, Meyer repeatedly entered the ambush area and faced heavy enemy fire as he attempted to fight his way to his trapped teammates. After several trips into the danger zone by vehicle, the 21-year-old Marine made a fifth attempt on foot and finally reached the embattled position. The four members of Meyer’s squad, First Lt. Michael Johnson, Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson Jr., and Hospital Corpsman Third Class James R. Layton, had all fallen by the time he reached them, but Meyer braved more enemy fire to bring their bodies to safety. Meyer’s actions during the Battle of Ganjgal are credited with saving 36 U.S. and Afghan troops. For his conspicuous gallantry, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in September 2011, making him the first living Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the United States military’s highest decoration for valor under fire. His citation reads:
“Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his 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. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
Photo Header: Dakota L. Meyer deployed in Afghanistan. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Congressional Medal of Honor Society: Dakota L. Meyer.
Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge: On This Day in Medal of Honor History - Dakota L. Meyer (Marines, Afghanistan)
Task & Purpose: Dakota Meyer Explains Why He Hates His Medal of Honor.
The New Yorker: The Case of Dakota Meyer.