Medal Of Honor Recipient Speaks To 60 Minutes

An interview with Dakota Meyer, the only living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor, will be featured during 60 Minutes this Sunday on KKTV 11 News. A video preview of the interview is included in this story.

President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer.

An interview with Dakota Meyer, the only living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor, will be featured during 60 Minutes this Sunday on KKTV 11 News. He tells CBS News Correspondent David Martin that he took matters into his own hands after requests for help were denied by superior officers.

Meyer traversed a gauntlet of Taliban fire five times to try to save his trapped comrades. The soldiers were ambushed in a small village in the Ganjgal Valley of Afghanistan.

On the radio he heard their repeated pleas for artillery or an air strike that could save them. After about 45 minutes, when neither artillery rounds nor helicopters arrived, Meyer radioed his superiors for permission to try to rescue them in a gun-mounted armored vehicle. The answer was no.

“So we requested again two minutes later and we were told no again. So I looked at Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez and I said ‘We’re going in,’” Meyer tells Martin. “I didn’t think I was going to die, I knew it,” says Meyer. Asked why he would drive through such a wall of fire, he replies, “There was U.S. troops getting shot at and those are your brothers.” For Meyer, the mission was clear. “You either get them out alive or you die trying. If you don’t die trying, you didn’t try hard enough.”

Rodriguez-Chavez drove the truck, an act that garnered him the Navy Cross, while Meyer manned the vehicle’s mounted gun in five mad dashes to get wounded and make their way to the trapped U.S. troops. “It was like, we’re it, like here comes a big target. The enemy…were running right at you.,” he recalls. “The rounds were hitting the turret and I just kept moving left and right, left and right,” he tells Martin. “There was so much fire it sounded like static over your head. I was just waiting for one of their rounds to hit me in the face.”

Meyer had to leave the truck to get to the wounded, exposing himself to even more fire with no cover whatsoever.

“You’re out in the open in the killing zone?” asks Martin. “I am,” replies Meyer.

Later in the battle, Meyer did make it to his four comrades after a sprint through the kill zone. “I just took off running and it was probably the longest run of my life. I felt like I couldn’t move fast enough…rounds are hitting everywhere around me,” says Meyer.

He made it to their trench, but they were all dead.

The four fallen soldiers, 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, Corpsman James Layton and Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr. might have made it through the battle if help had arrived when they asked for it believes Hooker. “You can’t say this with any certainty, but the chances are, in my opinion, that yes, they would have been [still alive],” Hooker tell Martin. All told, eight Afghan and four U.S. soldiers died that day. “The two principal officers…failed to discharge their duties in a responsible way, in a way that the Army and the country has a right to expect them to behave,” says Hooker.

Now 23, Meyer mourns the deaths of the men his heroic efforts could not save. “But at the end of the day, you know, we didn’t give up…we still did our job…we were still fighting,” he tells Martin. No, what he did was not extraordinary he says, “If I’d brought them out alive, that would have been extraordinary.”

President Obama presented Meyer’s medal Thursday.

60 Minutes will also include an interview with retired Col. Richard Hooker, whose investigation into the incident found the officers negligent in refusing to send help -- negligence he believes played a key role in the deaths of four U.S. soldiers.

Watch 60 Minutes on Sunday, September 25, at 6:00 p.m. on KKTV 11 News.

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  • by Robb Location: Upper Sandusky, Ohio on Sep 19, 2011 at 01:50 PM
    The Congressional Medal of Honor is EARNED, It is not won or awarded. It is not a prize!! Most receipents aren't even still alive!! God Bless this young man and all of our brave men & women in uniform. And by the way Penny, the Taliban & Al Quada "started" it. Congrats Cpl Meyer's from another old retired Navy P.O.1 Thank You for your service and patriotism!!
  • by Chuck Location: Colorado Springs on Sep 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM
    I agree this Marine earned this award with his actions. The problem is he was denied twice by superiors he is supposed to listen to and was told no. He did like he said my brothers in arms are in trouble and I need to do something. I am proud that the vast majority of our marines, navy, airman and army have a brain and will step up and do the right thing when they see something not being done right. Congrats Marine from this old retired Air Force NCO.
  • by Bob on Sep 15, 2011 at 05:02 PM
    The look on Obama's face sickens me. Although a solemn moment, he looks like he really hates doing it. When he's voted out, he should be drafted and sent to any war we're fighting at the moment. He'd have never made it through his first week in the 'weeds'.
    • reply
      by Penny on Sep 18, 2011 at 01:36 AM in reply to Bob
      What sickens me is that Obama gets the blame for everything, but who startet it? I believe it was Bush. How come nobody prints this clearly in the paper? Since so many people seem to have forgotten ?????????
  • by Scott on Sep 15, 2011 at 04:15 PM
    Very true Bill, well phrased. What this man did was beyond heroic and his modesty is almost overwhelming I couldn't even imagine what was and is going through his head all this time.
  • by RatFinkDude Location: CS on Sep 15, 2011 at 03:04 PM
    The dumbing down of our educational system is reaping the results. You do not WIN this medal, it is awarded. You learn that in History.....oh used to be taught. Now they coach to take tests.
  • by Bill Location: CS on Sep 15, 2011 at 02:41 PM
    You don't "win" a medal of honor it's awarded. Please, it's not a prize.
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