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Published: Tuesday, 9/20/2011

American hero

As its famous recruiting pitch put it, the Marine Corps is looking for a few good men. The corps found one in Sgt. Dakota Meyer.

President Obama last week presented this brave young American with the Medal of Honor for his exploits two years ago in a dark Afghanistan valley that had become a valley of death for his comrades in arms who were caught in an ambush.

His courage during a six-hour fight against Taliban insurgents was extraordinary. Just 21 and a corporal at the time, he is credited with saving 36 other soldiers, American and Afghan, and killing at least eight Taliban attackers.

After asking his superiors for permission to help, and being denied because the kill zone was too dangerous, he went anyway, with Marine Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez (who later was awarded the Navy Cross) driving a Humvee.

Corporal Meyer manned the exposed gun turret and made five evacuation trips. On the fifth one, although he was wounded by shrapnel in an arm, Corporal Meyer got out of the Humvee to pull the bodies of four dead Marines out of a ditch while he was under fire. A fifth American, an Army sergeant, died later of his wounds.

Later, as a civilian working a construction job in Kentucky, he humbly wanted the memorial services to be held for the dead Americans at the same time he received the medal, so his heroic comrades would be remembered too. On top of this, he asked to have a beer with President Obama — and got his wish.

You don’t have to like the war in Afghanistan to be proud of Dakota Meyer, an American everyman. Most of us can only dream of being so brave.

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