Dakota Meyer saved 36 lives from an ambush in Afghanistan and the former Marine will collect the nation's highest military honor at the White House on Thursday. While he is receiving the Medal of Honor, Meyer's slain comrades will be memorialized in hometown ceremonies at his request.
His hero's moment was his darkest day. Meyer lost some of his best friends the morning of Sept. 8, 2009, in far-off Kunar Province.
"It's hard, it's ... you know ... getting recognized for the worst day of your life, so it's... it's a really tough thing," Meyer said, struggling for words.
Meyer charged through heavy insurgent gunfire on five death-defying trips in an armored Humvee to save 13 Marines and Army soldiers and another 23 Afghan troops pinned down by withering enemy fire. Meyer personally killed at least eight insurgents despite taking a shrapnel wound to one arm as he manned the gun turret of the Humvee and provided covering fire for the soldiers, according to the military.
President Barack Obama will bestow the medal at a White House ceremony. The two have also met privately, having a beer on a patio outside the Oval Office on Wednesday.