When about one month ago I first heard that Marine Sergeant Dakota L. Meyer, a former Austin resident, would be receiving the Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan, I was so proud -- I am an Austin resident -- that the title was a no-brainer: "Dakota Meyer, Austin, Tex. Resident, Will Receive the Medal of Honor."
A follow-up story on this amazing young Marine was also no problem: "Dakota Meyer, Next Medal of Honor Recipient."
Well, the day has finally arrived for the first living Marine to receive our nation's highest award for valor in 41 years (since the Vietnam War) to be presented the Medal by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House.
That day is tomorrow, Thursday, September 15, 2011.
In announcing this event, Kentucky.com (Meyer is originally from Kentucky) used the headline "Adair native to receive Medal of Honor for 'worst day' of his life," based upon this humble hero's words: "I'm going to meet the president. How do you put that in perspective?... But, you know, it's for the worst day of your life," still mourning the comrades he so heroically tried to save and wishing, "That would be the most amazing (thing) out of all this ... if they could bring my guys back."
I considered using as a title to this post, "Tomorrow Is Dakota Meyer's Best Day of His Life."
But, in my opinion, and despite Meyer's own sincere and admirable misgivings, that day, Sept. 8, 2009, in a withering kill zone, in a remote village in violent Kunar province, Afghanistan, was Marine Dakota Meyer's best day, the day when -- according to the Medal of Honor Citation which the President of the United States will read tomorrow -- Dakota Meyer displayed:
... conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. When the forward element of his combat team began to be hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes above Ganjgal village, Corporal Meyer mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and Afghan soldiers. During a six hour fire fight, Corporal Meyer single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, saved 36 Marines and soldiers and recovered the bodies of his fallen brothers. Four separate times he fought the kilometer up into the heart of a deadly U-shaped ambush. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded, and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe. On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers. His second attack disrupted the enemy's ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines. Switching to another gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and as turret gunner killed several Taliban attackers at point blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out. Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members. By his extraordinary heroism, presence of mind amidst chaos and death, and unselfish devotion to his comrades in the face of great danger, Corporal Meyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Tomorrow is Dakota Meyer's Day, pure and simple.
Read more details about Dakota Meyer and about the actions that earned him our nation's highest honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty..." here