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Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Dakota Meyer (USMC) Part 1



so if I could have everybody's attention please continue to eat I'm going to go through a little bit of an introduction here and then I will go ahead and get the main event rolling certain Dakota Meyer he he hails from Columbia Kentucky graduated from high school in 2006 and immediately went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island for his recruit training after after going through the school of infantry he volunteered to go back to Sniper school and in the Marine Corps as in the case of all the services but definitely inside the Marine Corps to graduate from Sniper school is a first of all to qualify to get sent to Sniper school is a tremendous vetting process and once you're at the school it's no nonsense if you don't pay attention to detail the small things the scout snipers will drop you because they are very protective of their organization for so for a young Lance Corporal later to be a corporal in combat to go to Sniper school to make it through as a feat in itself he did one tour in Iraq in 2007 then he found himself back in Afghanistan in 2009 2010 and in 2009 and 10 he was part of what we call an embedded training team I'll just give you a quick example inside of Iraq to get the Iraq forces to finally have a moral compass back to that that moral honor courage and commitment to have a moral compass we needed to take soldiers and Marines and in numbers of about 15 to 20 most of the time closer to the 15 where the embedded training team became the fire in the belly the moral compass and the inspiration for that entire unit so you would have in this case in Iraq battalion of six to seven hundred Iraqis and you put 15 us warriors in there and that would be that would be the fire in the belly to get that unit ready to go to combat and when combat erupted very suddenly in most cases gave them the moral compass to stay there courage to stay and continue the fight and until we got that part right we had a lot of times where the Iraq units dropped their weapons took off their uniforms and melted back in they didn't want any part of it so that model was transferred over to Afghanistan so in 2009-10 starting to go to Meyer found himself as part of an embedded training team embedded in an Afghan Khandaq and the Khandaq that's the name of the Afghan battalions infantry battalions they came in different sizes depending on where they were in the cycle how many recruits they received probably anywhere from about 350 up to 550 but I'll let him talk about the specifics but before I introduced them I want to make sure everybody in this room understands that valor valor comes in multiple flavors inside the Navy Marine Corps team it there's there's actually different different strata spheres about you can you can show valor on the battlefield at the lowest end of the spectrum which is still valor obviously you can get a Navy Achievement Medal with a combat V and that means that you have earned the Navy Achievement Medal but it was done in a in a valorous situation and then more valor on top of that would be a Navy Commendation Medal with a combat B and on top of that it's a Bronze Star with a combat V the B for valor and those are the three leading up to the next one the Silver Star is just purely for valor so it does not need a combat beyond it so if you see someone with a Silver Star and there's no V that's because the V is not applicable to the Silver Star then you eclipse that Bauer and now you go to the Navy Cross the second highest award that we give in the Navy Marine Corps team and then when you eclipse the Navy Cross the next of the next level is a Congressional Medal of Honor there have been three Medal of Honor living Medal of Honor recipients since the Vietnam War in the United States Marine Corps one Medal of Honor recipient living Medal of Honor recipient in the last 41 years 41 years of combat that the Marine Corps has been in so sergeant Dakota Meyer is in a very unique a very unique I hate to use the term club but in a very unique status in the fact that we have given out a number across those levels of Valor up to and including in the Navy Cross but in my in my two years as the Marine component for Central Command both on the ground in Iraq and then later the component is the one who has all men all warts go through the marine component just like the army component to make sure that the seven those levels of valor are applied equally from Iraq to Afghanistan and also we were out in the Horn of Africa at the time that during that time I only had only had two Congressional Medal of Honor recommendations come forward and they're and they're very thick they're there they they go through tremendous tremendous scrutiny as they should and of those two only one was approved and that was posthumously for a for a Marine who was killed putting a helmet on a grenade and getting on top of it and it cost him his life so I just want to make sure you understand what a rare what a rare opportunity is today to hear certain Dakota Meyer Medal of Honor recipient talk to you today about his experiences when we discussed the format and he said he would really like to do is like be a teaser no words get up and talk to you about certain things but but he really wants to get into the banner of questions and answers so I would ask each and every one of you as he speaks think of the question you'd like to ask and then when he's done then we'll let the games begin because he's a lot more comfortable and I believe it's a much better learning experience when you have the opportunity for questions and answers to get that banner going so without further ado I'd ask you to please join me on a warm Naval Academy welcome to sergeant Dakota Meyer who Rock okay thank you so I have to say I really appreciate you all having me here today I didn't I didn't really know what what group I'd be talking to so like you said you know I just want to I'm gonna speak for a little bit and then hopefully it'll get your mind to think of some questions and I would much rather answer the questions that you all want to hear instead of me just stand up here and talk about something I don't know if you want to hear or not all right so I guess the real question is is why am I here today I have to say it's a 23 year old high school educated sergeant in the Marine Corps this is definitely not a group that I would expect myself to be talking to but I mean really what a great question why am I here I'd say the simplest most honest way I could say is is because you all provided me the opportunity so I want to start off by thanking you all for doing that you know by now most of you all have heard my story in one way or another and whether you know me as Dakota Meyer or the construction you know the regular guy you know me as sergeant Meyer the marine you've more than likely heard of me in some way shape or form I have to tell you I was definitely a typical high school student when I when I was in my senior year and I was walking through the lunchroom I looked in the back and there was a Marine recruiter sitting back there and he had his dress blues on and I'll never forget he had a bunch of ribbons and medals on his chest and so I went up to him being the typical me being a smart aleck and you know asking a bunch of questions and you know just just messing with him and finally he looked at me it went on for a man he looked at me he said you know what are you gonna do when you get out of high school and I acted tough I put my chest out and I said well I'm gonna go play football somewhere and he said yeah that's exactly what I would do too because really there's no way you'll ever make it as a Marine so so I have to tell you I went back to my classroom lunch period was over I went back to my classroom night I quickly realized what the recruiter had just done he had told me that I couldn't do something and for those you don't know me I don't take no very easily and I simply there's really not too many challenges that I don't accept so I went back to my class and I thought about what he had said so I was like a bargainer back in the day you know I was always all about cutting deals and stuff so I went back to my said you know what if you'll pack your stuff up right now I'll sign the papers thinking he's gonna be like all I have to do it later he said all right let's go so we did we drove up the recruiter station and signed the papers now the only thing left standing my way was my father's signature because I was 17 so we went back and I hadn't called my dad or anything and told him that I left school to go sign up for the Marine Corps so I went back home and my dad was my dad was expecting me to go play football somewhere so I went back home and I'm sitting at the kitchen table with the Marine recruiter and he comes in he's like well what's going on now so I said dad I'm going to Marine Corps he said what did you think about this and I said well yeah I did I said the whole drive up there and the whole drive back the last two hours and I said I'm ready to go so now I enlisted in Marine Corps a I'm shipped off to Parris Island on June 18 2006 and I want to tell you right now it's a date that I will never forget and it's definitely not place to go on vacation and then following parasol and I completed infantry training at Camp Geiger and then I was stationed in Hawaii and this is where I completed Sniper school following that I went I did my first tour in Iraq and operated as a sniper over there in Fallujah but my tour was cut short because I was bit by spider on my right hand a vicious enemy spider and I'm telling you if you go deploy that enemy will stop at nothing they even trained their spiders so I returned back home for two years for additional medical medical treatment and training and and this is and this is whenever I finally started becoming a leader you know I became I got I was in charge of five other Marines and a sniper team and you know we were training up to head back to Afghanistan Iraq again we didn't really have a mission because it's back in like 2009 timeframe so they're you know cutting down and I you know my Gunny comes in he's like hey you know we've got we need five guys from this the platoon to go to Afghanistan and I said what's the mission he said well I really don't know yet I'll find out he said but we need to know right now I was like all right I'm in so I went and this is where I was assigned to a small team and we found out we were going to be advisors to the Afghan National Army so myself and I'm gonna say three other Marines there was two other Marines and one Navy corpsman highway I considered them Marines and we lived with about 80 Afghans on a base and this is totally different from you know anything that we're used to because usually we go over with all conventional forces and you know the biggest thing is everybody speaks the same language and so you want to talk about a complete culture shock well I definitely got one but we did everything with the Afghans it was kind of a unique mission you know we we train with Afghans we ate with them we you know we built volleyball courts we did everything with them from training to mission planning to just learning about their culture and building relationships with them and I have to say it really helped us you know become a unit a solid unit and learn to trust one another and learn to depend on one another because you know we go over there and you think you know well you're going to send you to Afghanistan you're gonna live with Afghans you know it's all automatically you have this negative perception in your head of well you know they're not good at this or they're not good at that and I have to tell you that's probably one of the best lessons that I learned was it's definitely don't go over there with the mindset knowing that you're gonna judge them you know that you know what they're gonna be like because you know it's so crazy but one one thing that you learn about someone can change your whole perspective of them when really you know that's not even the whole you know before you even get to really know who they are and I mean you know with the Afghans I had to really open my mind and understand that that we're both in the same situation I mean we we you hear stories of where we go out and fight and all the Afghans drop their weapons and turn and leave and this and that you know you hear all those stories and I guess it happens sometimes but but I want to say right now that if it wasn't for the Afghan soldiers that fought next to me I would be dead right now and die and that's how close I am to them and and I tell you you know so that's definitely less than I think we could all benefit from so anyways we were stationed in northeastern Afghanistan it was right on the Pakistan border in a place called asmar that was a town and it was in the Kunar province and that's where I live with lieutenant Johnson Gunny kenefick and doc Layton those are my teammates and I guess part of my big opportunity was meeting those guys and developing a relationship and learning who they were and eventually learning to call these guys my brothers because one of the vol teams were put together what they do is they put different skill sets and different ranks and you know they never worried about personalities getting along it's definitely not an episode of love connection that's for sure but at the time I didn't really care about who they were you know I didn't know who Ted Johnson or any of them and I was the only infantry guy and to start off anyways and we're a breed of her own to say the least and so I didn't really care about him at the time I was just so excited about knowing that I was going to be able to have a chance to go do my job and get into a fight so what I'll learn more and more every day is that these guys are the most important people in my life and each of us shared responsibility to support one another and to protect one another and in a short period of time we learned to know each other so close and you know only the things that you know best friends and anybody real close with know and they were definitely without a doubt my brothers and there was never any doubt in my mind that at a moment's notice they were willing to sacrifice their life for me just as I was for them and in the end they proved it they all sacrifice their lives not just for me but for everyone in the United States of America because they were truly willing to give all so I'm sure so you know the details that unfolded that day on September 8 2009 I'll tell you a brief story of it we were headed into a village called Ganges all valley and so what the deal was is we were gonna go in that Gangi God was going to renounce themselves from the Taliban and they wanted to start supporting the government this has been a problem village for as long as I can remember and I even read about it in the bear went over the mountain and some books like that and so this day was the only day that I had not been with my team they with the mission was planned and briefed and they decided they were going to leave me out put me in a secure position with the trucks and they were going to place me with the gunnery sergeant named gunnery sergeant Johnson now Gunny Jay was a big fitness guru I mean he was he was a big man and so my sign was to sit outside at a secure position outside of town while my teammates entered the village and I was definitely uncomfortable about this I'm sure you know I'm sure you could imagine but but you know as an e4 in the Marine Corps you really have no other choice but to do what you're told so the mission was like I said into the village and secure a town meeting with the local elders and and I truly believe that this is a huge deal of how we win a war on terrorism is by cutting down the supporters of the terrorists and eliminating the freedom of movement of the enemy and so basically we're going to have tea but almost immediately upon entering the village my team was under attack it was an ambush and it was big and it didn't take me long to realize that it wasn't just a normal ambush because usually at the first of any firefight you know it takes about ten minutes there's a lot confusion and chaos but then after about 10 15 minutes you know the dust starts to settle you start to get your composure and you start using your training to kick in and start doing the fighting but not in this one it seemed like everything that you counted on and every other mission everything that you plan for everything that is always there to support you it's failing and the mission was quickly starting to fall like a house cards and the enemy was definitely seeing it and they were taking full advantage of it so after about an hour hour and a half I'd say sitting out listening to the radio traffic I remember how long I was with staffs on Rodriguez Chavez at the ORP and and I said we got to do something so we requested four times to go in and to go to go in and help bring a gun truck in and every time we were told no so after after that I couldn't wait any longer and I looked at him I said let's go so he we did and that because that's what brothers do for one another and I'm going to tell you there was no doubt in my mind as soon as I made that decision to go on my own program that if the situation wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be that I was definitely gonna be answering the mail on it but that that's fine with me and I knew and I accepted that that might be the consequence because I can tell you right now I'd rather have to answer the mail for that then in my guys be alive today than to know that I set back and did nothing and all my guys are dead but anyways I was listening to the radio traffic because I'm going in and I hear lieutenant Johnson trying to call in a support artillery mission and I'm telling you the format that we're required to call it in on it was perfect I've never heard him called when and training better and it was something it was spot-on and the response he got back was was to the rounds are too close to the village he said if you don't give me the rounds right now we're gonna die and the last response he got was well try your best so after hearing that it took a few minutes I hear Gunny or staff sont kenefick Gunny kenefick come over the radio and he said he needs a medical evacuation he calls in and he's trying to give his grades but there's so many people talking on the radio that that he kept getting cut off but I knew that if I could get the grid coordinates all I had to do was plot it on a map I know their location either way I could find them because I thought they were trapped in a house and he everybody got off the radio cuz he cleared the net and he got the first three three numbers out of his grid and that's the last time I ever heard from my team so after six more hours of evacuating out Afghans still wounded Afghan soldiers and searching for my missing guys a helicopter had spotted their lifeless bodies in a trench we finally got to where I could get to them I ran over to them and you know this is where I located them and I jumped down it's like I couldn't believe what I was seeing so I was wanting to check for a pulse because you know I wanted to it's like you didn't want to believe it not all of them so I checked for a pulse to only confirmed what I already knew and I found Gunny kenefick still face down with his GPS in his hand so they all fell together side by side doing exactly what they just wanted to do the day that they enlisted in the military and raised their right hand for the United States of America and they paid the ultimate sacrifice and now the details that day are difficult for me to communicate but I'm sure you can imagine scene now and now my actions have been recognized as outstanding a courageous but really it's not that way for me it's really only the exact opposite I feel that the entire United States of America has put me on a platform and is recognizing me for being nothing less than being a failure because in the Marine Corps and in the military we live by the words you leave no man behind or you either get them out of live or you die trying and it's simple if you didn't die trying or get him out alive well you didn't try hard enough but anyways I was simply just doing what they would have done for me exact same and now I've been honored by our country and the president United States I now stand before you as a Medal of Honor recipient so after hearing how I see the situation I'm sure you can understand why I would have some conflict on receiving the Medal of Honor I've been called an American Hero but I definitely don't feel like one I if I had saved the lives of my guys that day then maybe we could talk but I didn't so it's pretty simple so I decided that I had an opportunity and I would accept the Medal of Honor on behalf of all the men and women serving on behalf of the all the other guys who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and on behalf of the Marine Corps because I am just one of thousands of guys and military and soldiers who was just doing what they had sworn that they would do I have been given credit for simply following my marine corps oath to never leave a man behind and what my family has taught me to do the full credit credit goes to those who have offered their lives for our freedom I always like to refer to it as the opportunity that I was given because I believe that any man or woman uniform who raises their right hand and volunteers to go serve our country and go answer to go answer the call would do the exact same thing the only difference in and me and any other one else enlisted is that you haven't been provided the opportunity to get the Medal of Honor you've never been put in the situation to receive a Medal of Honor that's the only difference I was simply given the opportunity to perform my duties just as I have been trained I had the opportunity to recover my brothers after they had paid the ultimate price so from the time of the conflict there was over two years before the Medal of Honor was awarded you know we were just talking about how thick the packet is how many how many you know layers it goes through it's really it was really crazy on how much it takes but you know so and during that time I have to tell you not a single day passed that I wasn't I wasn't conflict in my head of you know well why had I live why had not been on that mission why wasn't that me you know the what-if questions what if I'd done something different but then again it goes back to opportunity you know why them but not me but the truth is that today I still ask these same questions but then it get happened opportunity and now I have accepted that every day we are presented with opportunities and what we decide to do with those opportunities is really what defines us in the end and how we remember it I mean let's face it every day we're faced with situations that we have no control over you can either look at them as situations or you can look at them as opportunities and I prefer opportunities because it sounds more positive and in my case it took me realizing that I was being nothing less than selfish and then realizing that it's bigger than me it's about my team and how they remember about how Marines are remembered how veterans and how any men and women serving are all remembered I've been given an opportunity to share my story and by doing so I get a chance to honor gunnery sergeant Johnson Gunny can effect doc Layton lieutenant Johnson sergeant first class Westbrook and all the Afghans that unselfishly gave their lives for us that day on September 8 2009 and when I tell this story it's an opportunity to honor and uplift them and their families and by honoring them with their families I hope to inspire an entire nation to honor our veterans that are fallen so now my opportunity is multiplied and have a choice to make how shot choose to live my life from this point forward I mean let's face it I can easily accept this honor and go back to my quiet country home and remain anonymous for the rest of my life which I'm going to tell you there's some times that I wish I would do that or I can take advantage of my new platform manipulate decision the system for my personal benefit but you know that's not for me either so I decided that I could take this opportunity to grow I can take this opportunity to educate and I could take this opportunity to lead and I want to take the opportunity to share with you groups just like you the reality that unfolded for me on September 8 2009 because the reality that day has offered me life lessons that will forever change my existence so now this part of my life I like to call it meeting America it's where I'm traveling around States and talking to numerous groups and in doing so I want to tell you something I've picked up a few things along the way I mean you all just imagine most of you are my agent here and if you're not just imagine being my age and where you're at right now to being a national figure overnight let me say don't envy me so I mean I was out pouring concrete and I get a phone call from the president and I was on a jobsite on my cell phone and then the next thing I know my life is a whirlwind I have about as much control of it as has anything else so now everyone in the United States of America is watching Dakota Meyer and watching what I do and let me tell you remembering that I'm a 23 year old and what they were doing at 23 year olds being 23 it's way out of the question talking about pressure and stress there's a lot there but then it's bigger than me so here are some things that I think that I've picked up along the way you have to maintain faith and confront the most brutal facts I'm sure you all heard of this guy but another form of Medal of Honor recipient Admiral James Stockdale once said you must maintain unwavering faith so that you can and will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties at the same time heads discipline to confront the most brutal facts in your current reality whatever they might be that day in gangs go I accepted that I would and could probably die but you know what I retain faith that as long as I was breathing I would do whatever it took to go back in to get my guys out alive and today I realized there are difficulties all around me but once I accept them I can devise a strategy and attack in any way and overcome any obstacle I have faith that I will adapt improvise and overcome and so will you if you prescribed a lesson so my lesson to surround yourself with people you can count on the Marine Corps taught me that team is critical and you're only as strong as your weakest link and I can tell you right now the men and women that I've served with are the most loyal men that I've ever met with that I've ever met I have learned that from this experience is essential for you to surround yourself with winning people and you will achieve great things so I now surround myself with men and women who are always faithful Semper Fidelis you got to develop a team around you that's always faithful to one another and you were guaranteed to achieve great things so while I no longer trust men and women with my lives on the battlefield I still trust them to hold me accountable in my everyday decisions to help me realize my true human potential and that goes into my next lesson realize your full human potential a friend share with me this phrase by a leadership by leadership expert by the name of Larry aptly positive thinking plus positive action equals the realization of your fuel for human potential potential when I first returned from Afghanistan I have to say to me thank you for me to think positive it wasn't happening and very and consequently very little positive was happening my my life I stayed angry and I abused alcohol and I removed myself from the love of probably the people that I could benefit from the most but then it hit me one day I looked down at my wrist and I keep aware that I wear the the kie bracelets on my wrist and I looked down one day and I see my teammates names on it and I looked at the band's and I realized that I have a responsibility to realize my full human potential and I started asking myself why why am i acting this way because really I'm only doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself I'm not feeling sorry for those guys because they're in a better place and truly when I break it down I'm actually an advantage at 21 years old the worst thing that will ever happen to me happen the worst day of my life that could ever happen so now further situations what do I have to worry about a bad day I really don't have to nothing will get that worst and I made it through that so with that being said all I can say is watch out America and so I realized that these brave men forfeited their lives so that you and I would have the opportunity to live ours so if I ever can't find a reason to push on I've got four reasons on my hands to push on if I don't for the guys who didn't have an opportunity to and it was on that day that I changed my attitude I changed my attitude and thinking positively has made positive action and I am now realizing my full human potential so now today I can share these lessons tell my story honor my teammates and return the opportunity groups just like you and I have the opportunity to be a leader and to share this message to change the future and make a difference so I have an opportunity to realize my full human potential so let's stick with the main question why am I here I'm here because I was providing an opportunity and now it has become a matter of accountability which I believe if you think about it everything in life and leadership revolves around accountability so maybe you say why well I've chosen to accept that now I have an opportunity and I had and a great leader has an opportunity to influence so many people well I've chosen to accept that I have now an opportunity to create change and educate and I must be held accountable I must set the bar high and learn to hold others accountable as well I have responsibilities to share this message so that the brave men and women are never forgotten and accountability is about to share relationships between individuals I promise you I've shared the closest relationship with my teammates and as a team we committed to each other that under any circumstance we would succeed or fail together because the Marine Corps is all about accountability and each man in a company squad platoon is all essential to the overall operation of the organization and success of the mission for example as being a sniper and being a sniper team you know the sniper you know it the sniper relies on the spotter to give him the corrections and the right dose just as much as a spotter requires a sniper to hit the target both trusting each other with their law to do their jobs and the truth is that every organization everyone's sitting in this room knows that you have to depend on someone else in here to achieve your overriding goes the Marine Corps taught me accountability through teamwork repeat exercises where I was required to require to fill my responsibilities at the same time depending on my teammates to do the exact same thing and you're only as strong as your weakest link and together we formed a discipline team with and focused on our objective with no one person being more significant than you than the other we held each other accountable

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Comments
  • Dakota Meyer doesn't care about negative or disrespectful comments. Vast majority of people will never ever encounter a life experience of this magnitude. Valor, bravery and courage are words tossed around with no understanding or experience. Dakota does not give a rats ass what you think or feel about him. If you have no respect for a veteran, and no experience in theatre, keep your mouth shut.

  • This dude is a fraud with a fluff story… just a glory boy for the corps. The real "TRUE" story is Captian William Swenson.

  • I can't believe the disrespect in these comments. I'm 🇨🇦 and I have so much respect for Dakota. He accomplished more in 21 years than most do in their entire lives. #HERO

  • do you not realize what this Marine did for our country? he threw away his life to run and get 4 downed comrades that were already dead. that takes heart. id really love to see you try to do what he did.

  • They hand out medals to brainwash the youth into joining cause it's Cool. When we are at war with NO direct enemy. It's all propaganda made up shit.

  • This Marine is alive because God, has a message to deliver! Part of that message is our military denied fire support for Sgt Meyers team. I cant believe that the artilary on the horn was an American unit. I cant see how it would have been a Marine Corps Unit. Sgt Meyer is on the right track! Americans need to take more accountability so we can depend on each other.

  • dear Richard are you crazy? Have u been in combat? Dear mr ricsen u are a coward. Keep hiding behind utub comments

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