5 years ago
It’s now official.
A Marine who braved intense enemy gunfire in Afghanistan to recover the bodies of four fallen comrades will receive the Medal of Honor for his heroism, defense officials said Wednesday.
Dakota Meyer, who left the service last year, will be the third living recipient of the award for actions in Afghanistan and the tenth man recognized for exceptional bravery in the current wars. He’ll also be the first living Marine to receive the honor since the Vietnam War.
White House and defense officials have not released details of the award or the timing of its presentation.
The 22-year-old’s heroics came while serving with an embedded training team from the II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Okinawa, Japan. In September 2009, his team was ambushed in controversial battle of Ganjgal, which claimed the lives of five Marines and nine Afghan allies.
A Defense Department investigation released five months later said that negligent leadership and a command refusal for artillery support directly contributed to the deaths of Meyer’s fellow fighters, and reprimanded three Army officers.
Contrary to the statement above, the warriors who perished included three Marines, a Navy Corpsman and a Soldier. Readers might remember this as the engagement where a team was repeatedly refused airtillery support because it violated the rules of engagement. Dakota fought his way through enemy fire, on foot, multiple times, to retrive his brothers from the field of battle. The real delay in this had to do with the Marine Corps, which is notoriously exacting in things like this.
There are some loved ones who still grieve, and one particular article I wrote on the reprimands of field grade and staff officers who refused them support gathered their attention.
I have felt from the beginning that General McChrystal is ultimately responsible for the death of my son, his unit and SFC Ken Westbrook in Gangjal. I have written to President Obama for answers, as one father to another, to no avail. Seventeen months and 10 days later, we still greive for the loss of our sons. We feel the pain, and are engulfed in waves of grief with each each new casualty (and various other emotional triggers).
Our sons suffered Death by Incompetence, knowing at the end that those they considered brothers-in-arms abandoned them on the battlefield.
I have no wish to meet General McChrystal or hear his apology or condolences. I only hope that he lives a long life and is always tormented by the ghosts of those he called his brothers-in-arms.
Nothing will bring our boys back, so we move forward in life to honor thier (sic) sacrifice and cherish thier memory. To that end, I would like to voice support (and hope that others will too) for awarding the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer for the exceptional bravery that brought our boys home to rest. Thank you Dakota. Semper Fi
I am Charlene Westbrook, widow of a United States Army Combat Veteran, SFC Kenneth Westbrook. My husband, Sergeant First Class Kenneth Westbrook, was grievously injured and later passed away from what was explained to me as graft vs host disease associated with whole blood, a rare blood disorder which doctors say he contracted while at the battlefield hospital in Afghanistan.
I was afforded the opportunity to review the redacted Investigating Officer’s Report. The eyewitness accounts of the unbelievable horror our American Warriors endured that day is unimaginable, unbearable and should have been avoided by all costs. The Investigating Officer’s findings and recommendations state that the officers appointed over those men were found to be negligent and derelict in the performance of their duties. The Investigator further recommended that the officers receive an administrative reprimand or a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR), however, no further information on whether those actions have been initiated and/or completed have not been provided.
My husband dedicated 22 years of his life proudly serving in the US Army with complete trust and honor to the very institution that in the end abandoned him and the other men who died that fateful day, September 8, 2009. I do, too hold McChrystal as the coward who has the blood of my husband on his hands.
“The American soldier is a brave one and he demands professional competence in his leaders. In battle, he wants to know that the job is going to be done right, with no unnecessary casualties. The non-commissioned officer wearing the chevron is supposed to know how to perform the duties expected of him. The American soldier expects his sergeant to be able to teach him how to do his job. And he expects more from his officers.” – General Omar N. Bradley.
I am Susan Price, the Mother of Fallen Hero Gunnery Sgt Aaron M Kenefick, USMC, killed that day on Sept 8th 2009. Like the Westbrook, Johnsons & Layton families, there are no words yet invented to share with you our sense of loss and void from our families lives!!!!!! Loosing a child or a spouse to WAR is one thing, loosing that special someone because of the deriliction and negligence of another, ESPECIALLY a “BROTHER IN ARMS” is something else.
We the families of the fallen five, have read the 15-6, Investigation report over and over and over again….It is unbelievable to read how many times my “BELOVED SON” called for help, and it is Beyond Human comprehension to read on further some smart ass remarks by some of these officers who discounted American Human Life, Special American Human life, front line Valor, not some back office cant get ahold of white gloved officer!!!
You cannot equate a piece of paper to the loss of human life, word has it that nothing came of this supposed reprimand!!!!! The word is that an order from a higher source told them not to answer the call for air support and artillery back up….The question is? Who gave the order and why?
So many unanswered questions this day. The actual mission was not even suppose to take place this day. Intel saids they were told that this would be a day filled with Taliban activity on the 8th. Who wanted my Son and the other Fallen Heroes put into this position? Why? So many unanswered questions!!!!!!!!!!!
McChrystal is responsible as well as the contributing 3 Officers who got off and those others who were a party to this knowledge. These men had families, they had a place in society besides the battlefield, they made differences in the lives of so many and for so many, who would want to scapegoat them out??????
Another comment made while my son called for 2 hours was “is this for Marines or is this for Army” I dont understand when you are at war what difference does it make what uniform you wear, all blood is the same color, and all I know is that my family and the other families of the fallen live in emotional pain every day of our lives due to this neglence. Where is Justice, does anyone really care about our men, really!!!!!!!!!!
As the father of James Ray “Doc” Layton, killed that day in Ganjgal, Afghanistan I will say this: This was the greatest loss a parent could endure. We all know the inherent risks our men and women take and to a point, we prepare for the worst. Knowing that our men were put into a situation in which they relied on help and were denied repeatedly, this is in-excusable. I have said before as a retired law inforcement officer, we rely on each other for back-up and know that when that call goes out our “backs” are covered. To know James, Aaron, Mike, Edwin and Ken lost their lives due to “inadequate” leadership in the operation center among several other cited incidents of “Negligence” on Sept 8th is sickening and unfortunately nothing new.
The post comments in the 15-6 investigation clearly states one of the Army officers in charge believed the Marines to be under “light, harrassing fire.” At 0530 hrs, the first shots rang out and the team said that they had been ambushed and were facing approx 150+ insurgents calling for help. At what point was this “light harrassing fire?” The 15-6 also states that what intelligence they gathered via intercepted radio traffic the day before from Ganjgal that they knew the team were going to be ambushed but thought by only approx 30 and yet knowing this they were sent into a “kill zone” a four man team including my son who were killed approximately two hours into the ambush still calling for air and artillery along with the rest of the unit, TWO HOURS!!!!!! The entire ambush lasted for hours.
It took 1,800 rounds of 50 Cal and two Hellfires to just get our son’s bodies, hours into the battle. The report clearly says the mission was compromised, the insurgents were well placed, even had recoilless rifles. The insurgents were well trained by military, wore uniforms similar to the ANA, even were mistaken as our counterparts by our own at one point, A clear setup. The mission was to take place the day before but was changed to the 8th “Oddly?” I think not. This whole ambush stinks of corruption and ass covering but by the enemy only, I also think not.
Brent Layton, proud father of fallen hero HM3 James Ray “Doc” Layton “Corpsman to the Core.” KIA 09/08/09 Ganjgal, Afghanistan
There is no way to assuage the anguish of the loss of a son or husband. But maybe with the CMH being awarded to Dakota, some small sense of righteousness may be brought to bear on a horrible, awful engagement where our warriors were abandoned.