A former Hawaii Marine will become the first living Marine Corps recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, according to published accounts.
The Associated Press reported that President Barack Obama will present the award to Dakota Meyer for his bravery in Afghanistan in 2009.
Meyer ran through intense gunfire in a three-sided ambush in an attempt to rescue three fellow Marines and a Navy corpsman who were pinned down, according to reports.
He had been wounded by shrapnel in the elbow on two previous attempts to rescue the Americans using an armored vehicle that was repelled both times by bullets and rocket-propelled grenades.
Meyer was assigned to Kaneohe Bay and the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, after joining the Corps. He had deployed to Iraq with the unit around 2007, his father, Mike Meyer, previously said.
“Somebody asked him, would he be interested in going to Afghanistan?” Mike Meyer said. “I think he had 15 minutes to decide yea or nay. He knew that Iraq was winding down, and he jumped at the chance to go to Afghanistan.”
Meyer was part of what is known as an “embedded training team” working with Afghan counterparts. On Sept. 8, 2009, 60 Afghan soldiers, 20 border police and 13 Marine and Army trainers were ambushed in Kunar province six miles from the Pakistani border, according to a McClatchy Newspapers reporter who was along.
Even though he was wounded in the elbow, Meyer sprinted into what had become a kill zone to help his friends, Marine Corps Times reported.
He found the three Marines and a corpsman dead, but while still under fire, Meyer carried the bodies back to a Humvee with the aid of Afghan troops, the newspaper said.
Meyer, 22, who has since left the Marines and returned home to Kentucky, said in November by phone that he considered himself “the farthest thing from a hero.”
“Of course, it would be an honor” to receive the Medal of Honor, he said at the time, “but it would be for my guys — it’s not for me.”
Only two living recipients — Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry — have received the award for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Associated Press said.
Dakota Meyer was contacted by President Obama on Monday, Marine Corps Times reported. The newspaper said Meyer will be the first living Marine recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor since now-retired Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg received the medal for his actions in Vietnam.
Kellogg, who now lives in Kailua, threw himself on a grenade in combat in 1970, saving about six of his fellow Marines.