Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Marine Hero

Today former Marine Corps Corporal Dakota Meyer was presented the nation’s highest military award for combat valor, the Medal of Honor, by President Obama in a White House ceremony. Corporal Meyer’s Medal of Honor award is the first to a living Marine since the Vietnam War.

Disobeying an order to remain clear of a deadly ambush zone, Corporal Meyer moved forward in a Humvee driven by a fellow Marine to provide covering fire and to also evacuate several wounded against what was right on the verge of being an overpowering enemy force. Corporal Meyer entered the lethal space four separate times in the process of rescuing 36 Afghan and American troops, several of whom he personally carried to the Humvee for evacuation to the rear. After already performing well above the normal call of duty, Corporal Meyer learned that four of his mates were still in the ambush area. Making a fifth trip, Corporal Meyer again braved withering fire only to find that his three fellow Marines and a Navy corpsmen had been killed in the vicious firefight. “It’s what Marines do,” he replied when asked why he moved forward when others stayed back.

At the time, Corporal Meyer was 21 years old.

Like other Medal of Honor awardees, Corporal Meyer insists he is hardly a hero. He says he will accept and wear the medal to honor the Marines he served with, especially his four buddies who died. “The worst day of my life,” he says of his profound sense of loss. “I feel like I failed them and failed their families.”

My gosh. A failure?

This young man made five trips into what was a hot combat hell, with 36 men alive today based directly upon what he did. He drove out under the threat of likely violent death five different times. He tore into the enemy with the ferocity of an enraged United States Marine, the flashing of his weapon the last sight many of his Taliban ambushers probably ever saw. He left his position several times to bring wounded to his vehicle. He himself was wounded. He left no one on the field. All of this after having been ordered to stay put.

A failure?

No. A warrior.

One hears the term “warrior” these days to describe athletes and others who play games. The word’s use is widespread and gratuitous, much like the young use “amazing” to describe anyone or anything only slightly above ordinariness. To see an NFL wide receiver thumping his chest after a routinely “amazing” play and hear him characterized as a “warrior” is ludicrous when compared to a real warrior like Corporal Dakota Meyer.

That our nation produces such courageous, selfless people as Dakota Meyer should make us ALL better. You have the gratitude of this former Marine for what you did and who you are.

Semper Fi, my young brother.

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