It’s every Marine’s worst nightmare.
Your buddies are pinned down in a kill zone, taking fire from three sides. No help is on the way, and every time you try to assist them, you get turned back by the massive amount of firepower unleashed by the enemy.
Cpl. Dakota Meyer found himself in this very situation Sept. 8, 2009. Caught in a battle in Ganjgal, a remote village in eastern Afghanistan, he took matter into his own hands, braving a hail of enemy fire on foot to reach his buddies. Sadly, they were dead when he found them.
The battle, of course, made national news last year because troops on the ground were outraged they didn’t get the air and artillery support they needed despite pleading for it repeatedly. This week’s Marine Corps Times takes it a step farther, focusing on the bravery of Meyer and his fellow Marines, relying on dozens of jarring, first-person accounts provided by troops on the ground to Combined Joint Task Force 82, which investigated the attack after the fact. Meyer’s is among the most painful to process.
I wrote the cover story after poring through hundreds of pages of documents compiled as part of the investigation. The military has repeatedly refused to cough up the entire report, but I obtained a 300-plus page copy — already declassified, meaning it could have been released — after my own recent return from Afghanistan.
The story also focuses on details not published in a five-page summary report of the investigation in February, and how things turned so sideways on the battlefield.
An example: The three Army officers previously recommended for reprimand due to their negligence that day were with Task Force Chosin, which was based at Forward Operating Base Joyce in Kunar province and spearheaded by 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y. The unit’s identity was redacted by the military in the summary.