It wasn’t a very big battle, as battles go. The Sept. 8, 2009, ambush on a joint patrol of Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces in Ganjgal village, Kunar Province, Afghanistan cost the lives of five Americans and nine Afghans. Like so many heartbreaking battles in this war, it need not have turned out this way.
The official report on this action reads:
During mission execution on 8 September 2009, the actions of key leaders at the battalion level were inadequate and ineffective, contributing directly to the loss of life which ensued.
Embedded Training Team 2-8 and the Afghans it was training walked in to a well prepared ambush by 100 to 150 Taliban. Four Marines from the team were cut off and calling for help. Several attempts to reach the four using an armored vehicle were repulsed.
Then Cpl. Dakota Meyer, nearing the end of his four year hitch with the Corps, took matters into his own hands. Already wounded from the rescue attempts with the armored vehicle, he left the vehicle on foot to find his comrades.
They were dead. Under heavy fire, Meyer carried each body back to the relative safety of the vehicle. The Marine Times describes the situation:
After helicopter pilots called on to respond said fighting was too fierce for them to land, Meyer, then 21, charged into the kill zone on foot to find his friends. Under heavy fire, he reached a trench where the pilots had spotted the Marines, by then considered missing.
He found Johnson, 31; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30; 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22; and an Afghan soldier they were training — all dead and bloody from gunshot wounds. They were spread out in the ditch, their weapons and radios stolen.
“I checked them all for a pulse. There [sic] bodies were already stiff,” Meyer said in a sworn statement he was asked to provide military investigators. “I found SSgt Kenefick facedown in the trench w/ his GPS in his hand. His face appeared as if he was screaming. He had been shot in the head.”
Rather than give up, Meyer, of Greensburg, Ky., fought to bring his buddies back home. Bleeding from his shrapnel wound and still under fire, he carried their bodies back to a Humvee with the help of Afghan troops, and escorted them to nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce, about a mile to the northeast of Ganjgal.
Meyer has reportedly been nominated for the Medal of Honor for his actions on that day. If it is approved by the White House, he would be the
second third living recipient of the Medal during the War on Terror.
The Adair County Community Voice has this to say about Meyer and his life after the Corps:
He returned home in June  after his four-year term with the Marines was complete.
Dakota’s perspective of handling the small things in life has changed since his time in Afghanistan.
“It really changed my perspective on taking things for granted,” Dakota said. “It may seem tough here but there are guys over there getting shot at … It’s hard to understand until you’ve seen it first hand.”
Dakota has no plans to return to active duty.
Dakota now works for Ausgar Technology, which is based in San Diego, Calif. He trains military on new gear and technology. However, he has times when his passion for the Marines makes him want to go back.
“When I see things on the news, it makes me want to go back,” Dakota said. “But I can’t win the war by myself.”