President Obama told a tale of staggering heroism when he awarded the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer: The Marine had rushed to save ambushed US troops against orders, gunning down eight insurgents, rescuing 13 Americans, and jumping down from his turret to rescue 24 Afghan soldiers. It would be a nice story—but it's not exactly true. A thorough investigation from Jonathan Landay of McClatchy Newspapers, who was one of the people Meyer allegedly rescued, reveals that the story is riddled with inaccuracies and exaggerations.
There's no evidence Meyer killed eight enemy fighters—the driver of his humvee saw him drop one. Nor did he leap off his turret to rescue Afghan soldiers; according to the driver, they got in themselves. He couldn't possibly have rescued 13 Americans—only 12 went into the valley, and four of them died. Nor was it Meyer who led the push to retrieve those fallen soldiers; it was Army Capt. William Swenson, whose own Medal of Honor nomination has languished under review. Meyer likely deserves the medal anyway, with at least seven witnesses saying he acted heroically "in the face of almost certain death," writes Landay. The Marine Corps stands by its official citation, but not the public version of events it has circulated; some officials acknowledged feeling pressure to see a living Marine awarded the honor. Read the full report here and the Marine Corps reaction to it here.