I have often mentioned in my writings that my brother James is a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. I like to brag about James because he is an awesome older brother. James is also an exceedingly courageous and humble soldier. I have witnessed the immense respect his soldiers, as well as his fellow Officers have for him. Some of my fondest memories are of visiting James in California, when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton. I just have to tell you a story – I can’t help myself.
The summer I returned from India my sister Clare and I flew to San Diego and waited for James to pick us up at the airport for eight hours. Now someone may think, eight hours that sounds boring. Well, let me tell you something, it was anything but boring. Clare and I turned it into an adventure and we had a blast together. I even had the time to call the chair of the Biology department at Seton Hall University during those eight hours to get signed into some bio classes that were full.
We spent a few days in San Diego surfing, jet skiing, running (sort of – I had just returned from India and had a parasite) soaking up the sun, eating dinner outside, getting our nails painted (well Clare and I). James wouldn’t let me date someone who rolled their luggage so I feel very confident when I say James wouldn’t be caught dead getting his nails done.
Then we got on a plane and flew to San Francisco, rented a blue mustang and drove to our hotel (which was really nice). James often slept in the field with his men during training so it all evens out. James took us horseback riding through Napa Valley and wine and chocolate tasting. Then he treated us to lunch at this old-fashioned place. It was a house that the owners turned into a restaurant, from the outside it liked picturesque and once inside it’s charm and attractiveness coupled with their gourmet food made it exceedingly quaint.
Then, as if there needed to be more to the trip we all flew to Chicago to run the Chicago half marathon (what was I thinking- yeah I wasn’t). The night before the race James took us out to dinner, to see the show Wicked, and to get ice cream sundaes at the Ghirardelli store on Michigan Avenue. Word to the wise – ice cream sundaes are not the best pre-race fuel and by the time we got back to our hotel we managed to get about four hours of sleep.
We all did really well at the race despite the lack of sleep and the ice cream sundaes. The next day Clare and I flew home to New York and James to San Diego. Clare and I often talked about that trip when James was deployed, as it was a memory with him we will cherish forever. And as usually, I went off on a tangent. The purpose of this post is to honor Former marine sergeant Dakota Meyer. The following two articles gave me goosebumps and are most definitely worth the read.
This article is taken from The Sydney Morning Herald.
President Barack Obama has awarded a fearless US marine, who five times defied a Taliban firestorm to save 36 ambushed men, with America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honour.
Former marine sergeant Dakota Meyer, 23, and comrade Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, defied orders and repeatedly drove into a village despite a blizzard of enemy fire, to rescue Afghan troops and American trainers after a deadly ambush in north-eastern Afghanistan.
”It was as if the whole valley was exploding, Taliban fighters were unleashing a firestorm from the hills, from the stone houses, even from the local school,” Mr Obama said at a ceremony in the White House.
He told how Sergeant Meyer, despite machinegun fire, bullets, grenades and mortars, loaded up injured and trapped Afghans into his vehicle and took them to safety, returning to the line of fire no less than five times. On his last journey into the inferno in the battle in September 2009, he found four fallen US comrades.
”Bullets kicking up the dirt, he kept going until he found those four Americans laying together as one team,” Mr Obama said. ”Through all those bullets, all the smoke, all the chaos, he carried them out one by one. In Sergeant Dakota Meyer, we see the best of a generation that has served with distinction through a decade in war.”
Sergeant Meyer, who was wounded in the arm by shrapnel, has said he was a failure as his four marine comrades were killed in the ambush. But Mr Obama looked the marine in the eye and said: ”As your commander-in-chief and on behalf of everyone here today and all Americans, I want you to know it is quite the opposite. You did your duty. Above and beyond.”
Striving to be the best
The article below is taken from Kentucky.com by Bill Estep
Those who know Meyer best aren’t surprised at the grit and determination he showed on what he calls the worst day of his life.
Meyer, now 23, learned responsibility early, growing up on a farm in Adair County, near the Green County line.
When he was 4, he wanted to ride a three-wheel all-terrain vehicle. His father, Mike Meyer, told him he could if he could push down hard enough on a pedal to kick-start the engine, because the battery was dead.
He tried for weeks and finally got the machine started. “He’s always had that determination,” Mike Meyer said.
In the 8th grade, Meyer’s father told him he wouldn’t make it as a running back on the football team. Meyer transferred from Adair County High School to Green County for his junior and senior years.
He played running back during high school and he played well enough to make an all-star team that went to Hawaii.
“I proved him wrong,” Meyer said smiling.
Mike Griffiths, who coaches football at Green County High School, said Meyer worked hard in the off-season to get ready and played full-speed.
“He wanted to be the best at everything he did,” said Griffiths.
Teachers said Meyer was smart, confident and quick-witted, with a mischievous streak. A chemistry teacher told her students she gave them work because she loved them; Meyer dropped to his knee one day and proposed, Griffiths said.
Meyer also had — and still has — a strong will and firm opinions. He wanted to be pushed and he occasionally pushed back, earning him trips to the office when teachers thought his challenges had crossed a line.
“I had a good relationship with him because I saw him a lot,” said Griffiths, who was then an assistant principal.
Griffiths said he didn’t think Meyer was disrespectful to teachers.
Tana Rattliff, who teaches special-needs students at Green County High, said she saw what a good person Meyer is when he volunteered as a peer tutor in her class his senior year in 2005-06.
One autistic student had a Spandex body sock to help deal with sensory issues, but didn’t like to wear it.
Meyer put on the suit and went out into the hallway to show the student it was okay — something many high-school athletes would see as not terribly cool, Rattliff said.
“He’s a good guy,” said Rattliff, who calls Meyer her adopted son.
Meyer joined the Marines almost on the spur of the moment his senior year.
As Meyer passed by, a recruiter at school asked him what he planned to do after high school.
Meyer told the recruiter he was going to try to play college football.
The recruiter threw down the gauntlet, telling Meyer that was a good idea because “there’s no way you could be a Marine.”
Meyer told him to prepare the paperwork, which his father needed to sign because Meyer was only 17.
“There was a challenge,” Meyer said. “I believe that’s what’s motivated me my whole life, is challenges.”
Ann Young, a counselor at Adair County High and longtime family friend of Meyer, said she and her husband Toby, a state police officer, talked about what could happen if Meyer went into combat.
“We felt like if there was a fight he would be in the middle of it,” Young said. “We knew that he would not let a dangerous situation stop him or change his actions.”
Recognizing the ‘worst day of your life’
Adjusting to civilian life has been difficult, Meyer said, but the transition has been eased a bit by support of family and friends in Columbia and Greensburg, the small towns in which he grew up.
Meyer does excavation and concrete work for McDan Inc., a company in Louisville that is owned by his cousin. Meanwhile, he is working to raise money for a scholarship program to benefit children of wounded Marines.
He doesn’t think there is enough public recognition for the job done by U.S. men and women in uniform.
“I don’t think they understand the sacrifices that people are giving,” he said.
Griffiths said he doesn’t think Meyer sleeps well, and Rattliff said Meyer has trouble relating to some people his age because they do not appear to have any goals.
“He’s grown up really fast and really hard,” Rattliff said.
She said there’s a sense of sadness about Meyer at times.
“He’s never going to forget … but I just hope, in time, it’s easier. He deserves good things,” she said.
Meyer said if a person goes to combat, he or she will come back with problems.
“But, you know, at the end of the day that’s not an excuse to feel sorry for yourself,” he said.
There has been a crush of interest in Meyer as the date for him to receive the Medal of Honor nears.
He did two dozen interviews with national, regional and local media the last couple of weeks. The Marine Corps assigned a public-relations person to stay with him.
He has been asked to do everything from serving as grand marshal of the upcoming Cow Days parade in Greensburg to throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees-Red Sox game.
Obama phoned him at work, a spokesperson for Gov. Steve Beshear reached out to him and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now running for president, made three calls to Meyer, who lived in Austin briefly. Perry called the first time to congratulate him and later to check on him, Meyer said.
The attention has been amazing, Meyer said, but he has said many times the award is really for his comrades who died in Afghanistan.
“I’m going to meet the president. How do you put that in perspective?” he said. “But, you know, it’s for the worst day of your life.
“That would be the most amazing (thing) out of all this … if they could bring my guys back.”