It is probably the most highly decorated small combat unit of this long and savage war and will soon be properly recognized with the award of the Medal of Honor to a 23-year-old Texan.
The date for the White House presentation has not been announced.
September 8, 2009, near the village of Ganjgal eastern Afghanistan: then Cpl. Dakota Meyer, a Marine scout-sniper repeatedly braved heavy enemy fire attempting to find and save fellow members of his team.
He will be the first living Marine recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor since now-retired Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg received the medal for actions 41 years ago in Vietnam.
Working as part of a joint training team, Meyer charged into a kill zone on foot and alone to find three missing Marines and a Navy Corpsman who had been pinned down under enemy fire for hours by about 150 well-armed insurgents. Already wounded by shrapnel before braving enemy fire, he found them dead and stripped of their gear and weapons, and carried them out of the kill zone with the help of Afghan soldiers.
Last June the Marine Corps announced that two other Marines on Meyer’s team in Ganjgal would receive the Navy Cross, the second-highest valor award a Marine can receive. Capt. Ademola D. Fabayo and Staff Sgt. Juan J. Rodriguez-Chavez were recognized for their roles in retrieving the missing Marines and Corpsman. Before Meyer went looking for them on foot, Rodriguez-Chavez also drove a gun truck into the kill zone while Fabayo manned its machine gun.
On November 6, 2010, then Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos (shown right with SSgt. Rodriguez-Chavez) told reporters during a visit to Camp Pendleton, California, that a living Marine had been nominated for the Medal of Honor.
Marines abandoned by the Army on the battlefield
The heroism of these fines Marines may not have been necessary is the United States Army had not refused to support the embattled unit; what happen at Ganjgal was just the most recent example of how disaster befalls Marines when they are under Army command.
The deadly ambush made national headlines last year, after a McClatchy Newspapers journalist embedded with the training team, Jonathan Landay, reported that the troops were pinned down for hours without artillery and air support because it was denied by Army officers at a nearby operations center.
Killed in the battle were Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson, 31; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22. A U.S. soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, 41, died Oct. 7, 2009, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington from medical complications tied to wounds he sustained in the attack. About a dozen Afghan soldiers in training with U.S. forces also were cut down by gunfire, according to military documents outlining the attack.
Army officials announced in February that “negligent” leadership at the battalion level contributed “directly to the loss of life” on the battlefield that day by refusing repeated pleas for artillery support from U.S. forces on the ground and failing to notify higher commands that they had troops in trouble. Three unidentified officers — likely captains or majors — were recommended for letters of reprimand, potential career killers, but Army officials have not said whether those reprimands were ever delivered.
Imagine that…. a stern reprimand for cowardice in the face of the enemy; they should have been forced to accompany the bodies home and talk to their families. On second thought I wouldn’t want these scumbag, rear echelon ticket-punchers around these grieving folks. Read more on this despicable incident here.
After completing training Meyer was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007 as a scout sniper. He gained national attention for his actions in Afghanistan during his second deployment in Kunar province with Embedded Training Team 2-8.
Meyer will become the 57th living Recipient.
Cpl. Jason Dunham is the only other Marine to receive The Medal; he was killed in action after throwing himself on a grenade in Karabilah, Iraq, in 2004 to save the lives of fellow Marines.