Conflict & Justice

Obama awards Medal of Honor to Marine

President Barack Obama on Thursday presented Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer with the Medal of Honor.

The Washington Post reports that on September 8, 2009, Meyer, then 21, defied the orders of his superiors in Afghanistan, went into a “killing zone” and rescued 36 U.S. and Afghan troops. On Thursday, Meyer became the third living service member to earn the Medal of Honor for service in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the first living Marine to earn it since 1973.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Obama said Meyer represents "the best of a generation that has served with distinction through a decade of war."

"You did your duty above and beyond, and you kept the faith with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps you love," the President said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Meyer was born in Columbia, Kentucky, on June 26, 1988, and graduated from Green County High School. In 2006, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

The Times reported more details of Meyer's heroic actions:

At the time of his deployment to combat duty in Afghanistan, he was serving as a turret gunner and driver. According to the military, on Sept. 8, 2009, Meyer was in the Ganjgal Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar province when his unit was attacked by 50 enemy combatants. Meyer charged through enemy fire five times in an armored Humvee to save 13 Marines and Army soldiers and 23 Afghan troops who were pinned down.

Meyer is credited with killing at least eight attackers despite being wounded in his arm by shrapnel.

Meyer also recovered the bodies of four friends killed in action.

"Because of your honor, 36 men are alive today. Because of your courage, four fallen American heroes came home," Obama said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, at Meyer's request, he and Obama shared a beer outside the Oval Office.