Book Review of "Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War" by Dakota Meyer
Dakota Meyer spent his childhood in Columbia, Kentucky. He came from a very humble background as he never met his biological father and he moved around a lot with his biological mother who was a struggling single parent. However, he never complained about his childhood. One of the things that was noticed is that from things he mentions early on in his life, he had integrity. "All that testosterone made me a little rough around the edges. I tried to have some sensitivity around sensitive people, but generally, I would rather have punched a guy and gotten punched back," claims Dakota Meyer. He said something in high school that upset and offended his cousin, Jenny. When she got into a car wreck and went into a coma he went to visit her in the hospital and whispered to her, " I love you, everything is going to be alright," as she squeezed his hand. He thought that he was doing good on the sensitive thing up until he insulted a girl and she threw a pair of scissors at him. Since he was the one who started the fight, he was suspended and was told he better master the whole "sensitivity thing" before he encountered a girl who owned a gun. So, he tried to work on the sensitive side of himself. He found it easy to talk to guys. However, he realized he had problems talking to girls. So when he asked the school guidance counselor for help with that she told him, "Be honest and upfront, care about what others are doing and what they care about, don't tease, listen, listen, listen, and take people's emotions and worries seriously. Special reminder: do not make fun of people in public. Write that on your hand." He played football and dated several girls, preferring brunettes. Upon graduating from high school he enlisted in the Marines and trained to be a sniper. He did not want to go into the armed services and not see combat. He wanted to be infantry. In 2007, he was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. His second deployment was to Afghanistan in the Kunar Province with Embedded Training Team 2-8.
His team of Marines was supposed to meet with village elders when they were ambushed. The Afghanistan soldiers who were fighting alongside the Americans were called "Askars". The opponent or the Taliban were referred to as "Dushman" which meant bandits or thieves. It was September 8, 2009, around the village of Ganjigal that three Marines and a Navy Corpsman went missing in action. Dakota Meyer entered the area knowing there were insurgents there and found the dead bodies. With the aid of the Askars he helped move the bodies to a safe location. The moving of the dead bodies of his fellow brothers in arms was one of the harder things to read about in the book. It would be a very difficult position to be in. Even though what he did was in my opinion, heroic, he appears to feel a personal sense of responsibility in the deaths and feels like a failure. One of the scarier parts of the book is when he was talking about being in a truck with his weapon and there was a Taliban shooter who shot and killed an Askar right by him. Dakota Meyer knew that the guy was watching him but could not tell where he was. Why he did not shoot Dakota Meyer is unknown. It was also then that he helped evacuate 12 wounded soldiers while helping cover 24 Marines and soldiers escape being killed.
Medal of Honor
It was on November 6, 2010, that General Amos, the Combatant of the Marines Corps said that a living Marine had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. It was revealed that the Marine was Dakota Meyer in "The Marine Corps Times". When the staff of President Obama tried to contact Dakota, they were informed that he was working his job in construction and should call when he was on his lunch break.
It was on September 15, 2011, that a ceremony was held at the White House to honor Dakota Meyer with the Medal of Honor and at his request those who had died. Even though the ceremony was honoring him, he felt like a failure the whole time according to what he says in the book, Into the Fire.
The Fallen Who Were Honored
1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, VA
Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, GA
Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., 31, Columbus, GA
Hospital Corpsman Third Class, James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank, CA
Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth W. Westbook, 41, of Shiprock, MN who later died of his wounds
I can tell you character traits I admire and work to develop in myself- perserverance , self-discipline, courage to stand up for what is right even when it is against one's friend's or one's self.— Dalia Magahed
"I am Not a Hero"
Despite how young he was, how much he accomplished, and how grueling the work was he never considered himself to be a hero. After Dakota Meyer returned to civilian life he tried to commit suicide with a Glock pistol and failed. Prior to this he had spent weeks in a P.T.S.D. treatment facility in Fort Thomas, KY. Since the suicide attempt had failed he thought that the time he spent in the facility had done him good and was the reason he was still alive. Dakota Meyer and Bing West published the book, Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War on September 25, 2012. He is presently married to Bristol Palin with whom he has two biological children and a stepson.