Texas veteran is first living Marine to receive Medal of Honor in 41 years…


leavenomanbehind“Leave no man behind”.

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.

dakota meyerHe 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 navy-crossrecognized 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.

Captain Fabayo is at left being decorated with the Navy Cross by The Commandant.

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.

Former Cpl. Dakota Meyer is shown during predeployment training at Twentynine Palms, Calif. Marine Corps Times has learned that Meyer, praised for his heroics during a September 2009 battle in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, will receive the Medal of Honor.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.

Only two other living Recipients — both soldiers — have received the award for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and just recently Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry.

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.

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About Gary Alexander

Volunteer coordinator for veterans support network in North Texas. Now retired from his private psychotherapy practice, I specialized in the diagnosis and treatment posttraumatic stress, working with victim assistance programs, veterans and the Veterans Administration for over 20 years. After being wounded in action in Vietnam, I was medically retired from the Marine Corps and know first hand many of the readjustment difficulties and psychological stresses experienced by today's OIF and OEF veterans. I am available, at minimal cost, to speak at your functions on several subjects including veterans issues, Vietnam, the Medal of Honor, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and critical incident debriefings.
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8 Responses to Texas veteran is first living Marine to receive Medal of Honor in 41 years…

  1. Pingback: Texas veteran is first living Marine to receive Medal of Honor in 41 years… (via LeatherneckM31) | My Blog

  2. Bob Mack says:

    “…helicopter pilots called on to respond said they could not help because the fighting on the ground was too fierce”–Marine Corps Times

    Can’t help but wonder what Bruce Crandall & Ed Freeman would’ve said about that.

    • XLNT point…. I was fortunate enough to talk and spend time with both Army pilots (who argued throughout their 40 year friendship as to who was the best chopper jock) and there was no question what they would have done under those circumstances.

      In fact…it was the men they risked their lives for in the 7th Cav who mounted a decades-long fight to see both men receive The Medal; otherwise they would have been ignorerd as both were not considered by Army Brass to be “their” kind of officers. That’s right… they were fighting men… grunts with wings.

      First time I met “TooTall” I asked him if “the story was true.” The sucttlebutt was that Freeman dragged his feet on the way to the MOH intetionally, delaying the ceremony because Clinton was president.

      “You damned right I did,” said Ed; “I didn’t want that draft-dodging son of a bitch’s hands on my Medal.”

      From Ed’s mouth, to my ears, to your computer.

      God rest his soul,
      GA

  3. These heroes don’t get enough honor, for sure!

  4. TonyF says:

    GA, I really appreciate you posting these stories. Your attention to MOH winners is unparalleled and we all owe you our thanks. Thanks to Cpl Dakota Meyer as well. What a fine example of a great Marine.

  5. Keith St. Clare, member of the American Legion, Victoria, TX 77901 says:

    A committee of local veterans served recently to evaluate art and essays submitted to the VFW. High School student Ms. Jessie Peterson won with her essay about Ganjgal and Cpl Meyer, S/sgt Rodriquez and Captain Fabayo. A splendid video CD has been created. I would like to send it to them and to their associates, including those in the Afghan army and police. I seek help in securing addresses. Please help. I am Keith at 415-244-1856.

  6. SSG Ken Cockes says:

    Gary,

    “what happen at Ganjgal was just the most recent example of how disaster befalls Marines when they are under Army command.”

    Saying they were abandoned by the Army is inflammatory and wrong. Kiowas were on station and the ETT was being effective commanded by CPT Swenson ( Army ), their was also a Marine Major there as well.
    That their team was denied fires is true, but save all the inter service bullshit for another forum. I was stationed with them in Jalalabad and served on another ETT during their rotation and knew some of their team, those that fell were both Army and Marine alike, a bullet doesn’t know the difference and either should you when you are describing the fallen.

    • Staff Sgt.Cockes,

      ‘Marines abandoned by the Army on the battlefield’

      Yes, headlines/subheads being what they are–a brief summation–it is too encompassing a term if applied to every single incident in the battle; however, it was and I believe still is according to Meyer’s account and later Swenson’s, that arty missions and/or air strikes were denied and as I quoted:

      “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.

      If (regardless of branch) you decline to support me and my men and I die as a result (and damn the ROE)… I hardly think that’s “inter service bullshit” to be saved for another forum. KIA is the end of the story.

      Because Swenson was doing a great job which Meyer has repeatedly commended him for (and for which he was deservedly honored today) is a clear indication that he did not feel “abandoned” by Swenson or others in the battlescape …. but both have have blasted the chain of command for the deaths of their comrades.

      Moreover I don’t have your advantage being “in country” and I was wrote this account two and a half years ago… I know a great deal more now, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Army obviously tried to deep six Swenson’s MOH package and silence him for his outspokenness about battalion’s malfeasance.

      I haven’t heard him say he was abandoned… but wouldn’t blame him if he believed he was.

      All in all, both the Army and Marine Corps chains of command f’ed this up completely and reduced a great and heroic story of rare joint combat operations to a scandal which has produced nothing more than mistrust, anger and controversy.

      To wit: http://www.theleafchronicle.com/viewart/20131014/NEWS01/310140015/Rift-between-Medal-of-Honor-recipients-exposed

      Thank you for your service and Semper Fi,
      GA
      M/3/1 1969 RVN

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