Meyer Inducted Into Pentagon Hall of Heroes

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta induct­ed Marine Corps Medal of Hon­or recip­i­ent Sgt. Dako­ta L. Mey­er into Pen­ta­gon Hall of Heroes today, hold­ing him up as an exam­ple of courage, self­less ser­vice and the Corps’ mot­to, “Always Faith­ful.”

 Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota L. Meyer
Medal of Hon­or recip­i­ent Marine Corps Sgt. Dako­ta L. Mey­er stands next to a plaque bear­ing his name after he was induct­ed into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny in the Pen­ta­gon, Sept. 16, 2011.
DOD pho­to by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bai­ley
Click to enlarge

Speak­ing to a stand­ing-room-only crowd in the Pen­ta­gon Audi­to­ri­um, Panet­ta joined Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus and Marine Corps Com­man­dant Gen. James F. Amos in hon­or­ing Mey­er as the 3,475th mem­ber of the pres­ti­gious Pen­ta­gon Hall of Heroes. Mey­er became the first liv­ing Marine to receive the Medal of Hon­or for oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, where he repeat­ed­ly returned in the face of heavy ene­my fire to save his Marine, sol­dier and Afghan com­rades and retrieve the bod­ies of those killed.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma pre­sent­ed Mey­er the high­est mil­i­tary hon­or yes­ter­day dur­ing a White House cer­e­mo­ny.

Today, Panet­ta rec­og­nized “the incred­i­ble val­or and the uncom­mon fear­less­ness” Mey­er demon­strat­ed, dis­re­gard­ing his own safe­ty to charge the ene­my kill zone “again and again and again” to search for his com­rades and friends.

His actions saved 13 U.S. Marines and sol­diers and 23 Afghan sol­diers and police, Mabus not­ed.

Mey­er “tru­ly went above the call of duty,” Panet­ta said.

“By your actions, you have earned a place in his­to­ry,” the sec­re­tary told Mey­er. “And the devo­tion you showed to your fel­low broth­ers in arms will nev­er be for­got­ten.”

Thanks to Mey­er and those who served with him, “fam­i­lies are still whole,” Mabus said. “Chil­dren and grand­chil­dren are going to be born. Mar­riages and grad­u­a­tions will get to be cel­e­brat­ed. And at its most fun­da­men­tal, life will con­tin­ue.”

Panet­ta called Mey­er an exam­ple of a gen­er­a­tion of young Amer­i­cans who have come to their country’s ser­vice since 9/11. His sto­ry, the sec­re­tary said, serves as an exam­ple and inspi­ra­tion for all mil­i­tary mem­bers, those who will serve in the future and to all Amer­i­cans.

Amos said Meyer’s actions reaf­firm that “despite the uncer­tain secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment in which we live or the head­lines which speak of ongo­ing crises around the world, our nation still yet pro­duces young men and women who embody the time­less val­ues of ser­vice over self.”

“It reminds us that we still have in our midst ordi­nary Amer­i­cans who do extra­or­di­nary things � patri­ots who vol­un­teer for the pro­fes­sion of arms,” and will­ing­ly putting them­selves in harm’s way when called to do so to defend their coun­try, he said.

“There are no words, Sergeant Mey­er, that can ade­quate­ly con­vey what you and your fel­low Marines do every day,” Mabus said. “And as we hon­or Sergeant Mey­er today, we also remem­ber more than 20,000 Marines still deployed in Afghanistan, still stand­ing the watch so the rest of us can sleep in our homes in peace.”

Amos said he took time before yesterday’s Medal of Hon­or cer­e­mo­ny to empha­size the mag­ni­tude of it to Marines around the world.

“As pre­pared as we all thought we were, I doubt that a sin­gle one of us who sat in that room and lis­tened to our pres­i­dent tell the sto­ry of what hap­pened that fate­ful day in the Konar province of Afghanistan antic­i­pat­ed the over­whelm­ing sense of nation­al pride and pro­found grat­i­tude for a young Marine,” he said.

Amos, not­ing that he was hon­or­ing a liv­ing Marine Corps Medal of Hon­or recip­i­ent for the first time in his four-decade career, under­scored that “there is noth­ing rou­tine about what hap­pened yes­ter­day and what is tak­ing place today” at the Pen­ta­gon.

“This is indeed a momen­tous occa­sion — and one that many of us will nev­er like­ly see again in our life­times,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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