Cpl Dakota Meyer, USMC, was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) by President Obama for actions in Afghanistan. According to McClatchy DC:
Obama told the audience in the White House East Room on Sept. 15 that Meyer had driven into the heart of a savage ambush in eastern Afghanistan against orders. He’d killed insurgents at near-point-blank range, twice leapt from his gun turret to rescue two dozen Afghan soldiers and saved the lives of 13 U.S. service members as he fought to recover the bodies of four comrades, the president said.
Now, however, McClatchy news is saying the story is not true, or least, that it is embellished.
[A]n exhaustive assessment by a McClatchy correspondent who was embedded with the unit and survived the ambush found that the Marines’ official accounts of Meyer’s deeds — retold in a book, countless news reports and on U.S. military websites — were embellished. They’re marred by errors and inconsistencies, ascribe actions to Meyer that are unverified or didn’t happen and create precise, almost novelistic detail out of the jumbled and contradictory recollections of the Marines, soldiers and pilots engaged in battle.
Why? Because the services were pressured to write and approve more medals as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
The article gives many example of disparities between accounts – some disparities should be expected given the nature of what happened – which the Marine Corps has not fully answered. They have responded, but with few details. Essentially they outline the process and sources used, and then firmly state that they stand by the citation.
Regardless, Meyer’s medal is tarnished, perhaps unfairly. What does not help is that McClatchy is unable to name their sources who mostly have asked to remain anonymous, and that many relevant sources contacted refused to comment.The actual events they question, however, do seem suspect. How, for instance, do you evacuate 24 Afghans in a Humvee without making at least four runs – and even that number would require packing them in like sardines. Or more directly, if Meyer saved 13 US Marines and soldiers, what are their names? On that topic there should be minimal disparities among the different recollections.
I sincerely hope that the story is neither fabricated nor embellished, for the sake of both Cpl. Meyer and the respect and prestige of the Medal of Honor. It looks as if both are already tarnished, unless and until the Marines offer a more compelling defense of the citation.
"Did this man deserve the Medal of Honor? If the answer to that is yes, then the details of the citation become secondary," [Doug Sterner, an historian of military medals] said. "But we do need to keep the record as accurately as we possibly can.