Jim Watson /AFP/Getty Images
President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer.
President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer. Jim Watson /AFP/Getty Images
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty," U.S. Marine Dakota Meyer was just presented with the nation's highest honor for valor on the battlefield. He's the first living Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor.
As NPR's Tom Bowman reported earlier (and we posted about it this morning), Meyer is being recognized for actions he took in September 2009 that saved the lives of two dozen Afghan soldiers and more than a dozen of his fellow Marines.
Meyer, 23 and now a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, was a corporal at the time of his heroic actions. He and another Marine disobeyed orders to take on a dangerous, six-hour effort to rescue stranded troops who had been ambushed by enemy fighters.
They were up against mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. And they went back into the line of fire, "again and again," as Tom reported on Morning Edition. Meyer took the gunner's position in vehicles as he and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who was behind the wheel, made four trips into the field of fire to get to their comrades. Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez, on foot, then located and recovered the bodies of four Marines who were killed in the battle.
As President Obama just said, Meyer "placed himself in the thick of the fight, again and again and again."
"We are extraordinarily proud," the president added. In Meyer, Obama said, "we see the best of a generation that has served through distinction through a decade of war."
We reported earlier that after the firefight, Meyer felt had had failed because not all the Marines survived. "As your commander-in-chief," the president just told him, "I want you to know it's quite the opposite."
Rodriguez-Chavez already has been awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for valor.