The series of McClatchy news articles has cast doubt on the decision to award the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Dakota Meyer. I stand firmly behind the process and the decision.
The Medal of Honor is our nation's highest award for bravery. Fittingly, it involves the most demanding of investigations and multiple levels of review. This process, followed scrupulously in this and other cases, is designed to confirm with as much certainty as possible that the level of bravery and self sacrifice displayed is worthy of this singular honor.
Selflessness of this caliber cannot be measured under ordinary circumstances, because the ordinary does not evoke the extraordinary. Rather, the Medal of Honor requires that a display of heroism take place under the most difficult circumstances our service members can face.
With life and death hanging in the balance, brave warriors, like Meyer and those who have gone before him, override their natural, instinctive impulses of self-preservation and risk their lives to save others. Our highest honors are reserved for those who perform such deeds in combat while facing the enemy and braving fire.
The Marine Corps has reviewed the investigations, the many and varied statements from those who observed the battle in the Ganjgal Valley, the statements of those who participated in pieces of that battle, as well as the multiple reviews and endorsements confirming that Meyer exhibited the rare courage and selflessness worthy of our nation's highest military honor.
The ambush and ensuing six hour firefight was without a doubt a life-defining event for those present that fall morning. As such, the fight was seen and subsequently recorded from many different perspectives, each with a personal view of how events unfolded.
This thorough review did not cause me to question the extraordinary heroism of then 21-year-old Cpl. Meyer, nor the worthiness of the award; just the opposite occurred. Sworn testimonies substantiated the events of that morning and the extreme heroism of Meyer. The facts are that he saved many lives and recovered the bodies of his fallen comrades. In this, he did not act alone; other brave warriors — soldiers, Marines and Afghans — were also in the fight.
In the final analysis, I did not find cause to question any single fact, nor minor discrepancy that may be buried in descriptions of a battle that lasted for hours and evoked such bravery in our troops. My only question is: Where do we find such men?