Roy Exum: Dakota’s Coming

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Dakota Meyer, who on a day in September of 2011 defied battlefield orders to save the lives of over 30 soldiers who were pinned down in a brutal Afghanistan ambush, is coming to Chattanooga on July 12 on a very similar mission. The famed Marine sergeant, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroics, will be the headline speaker at the Sixth Annual America Heroes Dinner in hopes of rescuing former members of the U.S. military who were severely wounded fighting for the same values, ideals and freedoms. Sponsored as a fundraiser by Chattanooga’s Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation, Meyer will come here to speak on behalf of five fallen Americans that he, a humble man from Columbia, Ky., will never forget.

Just as Meyer readily admits, one of his lifetime hopes is to honor our veterans – both alive and fallen – and he wholeheartedly endorses the Honoring our Sacrifice effort. Shortly after Andrew Smith was graduated from Chattanooga Christian, he had enlisted in the Army. On his first patrol, his legs were blown away when he stepped on an enemy explosive. Smith spent months at Walter Reed Military Hospital, which triggered his family joining him in an effort to help other maimed warriors whose lives would never be the same. Already the foundation has assisted hundreds of needy veterans and Meyer will be joined at the July 12 dinner by at least a dozen veterans who are missing limbs and are recipients of the Foundation.

Meyers’ story of bravery under fire is astounding. He dared concentrated enemy fire as he made five trips into the war zone only to find the men he was so eager to help had been killed. As he tells his story, he overcomes his humility with the admission he almost took his life, and the pitfalls that accompany the nation’s highest military honor. He also tells his audience that if you are willing to die for your country, you should be able to live for it as well.

When President Barack Obama presented Dakota Meyer with the ultimate award, here is what the commendation said:

* * *

MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION FOR DAKOTA MEYER

This was read by President Barack Obama…

Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjigal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above.

Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner's position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area.

During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members.

Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer's daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy's attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

* * *

Tickets to attend the event, as well as pricing for corporate tables, are available at:  www.honoringthesacrifice.org. Individual tickets are $80 each, or $160 per couple. Please address questions or inquiries to 423/593-0182 or info@honoringthesacrifice.org. Due to time constraints, those wishing to acquire corporate tables are urged to make reservations as soon as possible.

royexum@aol.com


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