Cpl. Dakota Meyer Receives Medal of Honor For Saving 36

Cpl. Dakota Meyer was not supposed to drive repeatedly into a firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan on September 8th, 2009- but his high school football coach says the young man was always a kid who sought to discover “how far he can push the envelope.”

Cpl. Meyer defied orders on that day, risking and expecting death as he drove headlong into danger, unwilling and unable to allow his friends to remain unprotected in the battle. He recalls his expectation that he would not survive defiance of “orders to stay put” on what he describes as the “worst day of his life” in an interview:

“I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind if I was going to die… It was just when.”

In fact, Cpl. Meyer did not defy orders once- he did it five times, ultimately rescuing 23 Afghan troops and 13 of his fellow American soldiers. USA Today describes the chaos into which the brave young man headed:

Inside the narrow valley, Taliban insurgents were dug into the high ground and hidden inside a village, pouring down deadly fire at Afghan forces and their American advisers. Armed militants swarmed the low ground to try to finish off the troops… Meyer’s team was pinned down near the village. He wasn’t going to wait and see whether they would get out… Meyer set himself in the turret of a Humvee and rode straight into the firefight, taking fire from all directions.

Meyer, who said he couldn’t “sit back and watch” his buddies get slaughtered, explained that he put himself in harm’s way so many times simply because his “best friends were in there getting shot at” during the 2009 incident. In addition to saving 36 people from the dangerous firefight, the Marine also transported out four of the bodies of fellow soldiers who did not survive the incident- Marines 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson, 31, Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30 and Navy Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22. The four fallen men were found in a ditch, out of ammunition and stripped of radios and other equipment.

Cpl. Dakota Meyer is set to be awarded the honor for bravery by President Obama on September 15th, and is the third living Medal of Honor recipient following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.