Washington (CNN) -- A Marine who ran through enemy fire to recover wounded fellow American and Afghan troops during a firefight in Afghanistan received the Medal of Honor Thursday from President Barack Obama.
"You did your duty above and beyond and you kept the faith," Obama told Dakota Meyer, who became the first living Marine to be recognized with the nation's highest military honor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.
"The award honors the men who gave their lives that day, and the men who were in that fight," Meyer said, according to a Marine newsletter. "I didn't do anything more than any other Marine would. I was put in an extraordinary circumstance, and I just did my job."
Meyer's actions saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers, and 23 Afghan soldiers, according to the Medal of Honor account on the Marine website. He also is credited with killing at least eight Taliban insurgents during the September 2009 incident in Kunar province.
Meyer, who serves in the Inactive Ready Reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a sergeant in his home state of Kentucky, said in November that he didn't want to discuss details of the incident because it's still difficult to think about.
Four Marine advisers died in the firefight.
"I was a failure," Meyer told CNN last fall. "My guys died. That was my whole team."
Neither Obama nor the Marines saw it that way. A defense official with knowledge of the award process last fall said that just before he retired, former U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway recommended Meyer for the nation's highest award for bravery.
"Sgt. Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation's Corps of Marines," Marine Commandant Gen. James F. Amos said last month. "He is a living example of the brave young men and women whose service, fidelity and sacrifice make us so proud."
On Wednesday, Obama and Meyer had a beer together on the patio outside the Oval Office. According to a series of tweets by White House spokesman Jay Carney, when a member of Obama's staff called Meyer over the weekend to prepare, "Meyer made a special request ... Meyer asked the staffer if he could have a beer with the president."
Meyer is only the second Marine to earn the Medal of Honor from the current wars. In April 2004, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham was leading a patrol in an Iraqi town near the Syrian border when a person in a vehicle dropped a grenade. Dunham hurled himself on top it, using his helmet to try to blunt the force of the blast. He died eight days later and received the honor posthumously.
In: World News, Afghanistan
Tags: Medal of Honor, U.S. Marines, USMC, Sgt Dakota Meyer, Afghanistan
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
Views: 6914 | Comments: 53 | Votes: 6 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 9 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 3
|Liveleak on Facebook|