On Sept. 8, 2009, Sgt. Dakota Meyer entered an insurgent compound in the village of Ganjgal in Afghanistan in search of three missing United States Marines and one United States Navy Corpsman. Meyer would ultimately find the missing soldiers dead, stripped of their uniforms and weapons, and their bodies being taken by a Taliban fighter.
Over the next few hours, Meyer would not only kill the Taliban fighter, but he would also secure the bodies of the four soldiers from the compound, personally evacuate 12 more wounded soldiers and provide cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape during what would later be dubbed the Battle of Ganjgal.
Sgt. Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on Sept. 15, 2011. He was the first Marine in more than 38 years to received the distinguished award and is the second youngest living recipient.
A new video produced by the United States Marines offers a glimpse of Meyer’s life before enlisting, and outlines how his decision to be a part of the U.S. military was the most impactful decision of his life. The video also includes for the first time Meyer offering his own account of the Battle of Ganjgal.
Check out the video in its entirety below:
In 2009, Sgt. Meyer was part of an embedded training team in eastern Afghanistan. He and his team lived, trained and fought with Afghan police and soldiers. During a meeting with village elders in Ganjgal, Meyer’s unit was ambushed.
“There was a group of about 21 Marines in there and about 80 Afghans,” Meyer said. “I was sitting just outside the village in a truck with another staff sergeant, and they ended up getting hit. Air support was not coming in, so we decided we should go in there and try to help them get out.”
On five separate occasions, Meyer went back into the village in an attempt to get American and Afghan soldiers to safety. Under a shower of gunfire, Meyer was wounded in the arm, but continued to pull members of his unit out of the area.
Meyer later confessed, “I didn’t think I was going to die. I knew I was.”
On receiving the Medal of Honor, Meyer says that the award goes far beyond recognizing his own actions.
“It’s a great honor to be getting the Medal of Honor, but it’s not for me. It’s for those guys. It’s for the Marine Corps. For the Marines who are serving and who will serve.”