Dakota Meyer, the Ganjgal Ambush, and What Really Matters

*This article was originally published at HooahWife.com


The Ganjgal Ambush is a daily thought in my house. You can't walk from the kitchen to the bedroom without passing reminders. James' pictures, medals, citations...his folded flag. Along with the metal bracelets we wear every day, these things remind us that we have an obligation to those that died that day, as well as the one that died a month later as a result of the wounds received during that battle. We have a responsibility to never forget, to live life to it's fullest because they don't have that choice anymore, and to do the right thing no matter who isn't going to like it.

Right now, the right thing for me to do is to stand up and point out that someone is trying to tarnish what's been written in the history books with their own news articles that discredit Dakota Meyer, one of the individuals responsible for bringing James' body back to his family.  Dakota is one of the people who almost died making sure the Taliban didn't do unspeakable things to James and his brothers that were shot to death in that valley on September 8, 2009.  He and 3 of his brothers in arms went into a hell some of us will never understand, and made sure that the 3 Marines and 1 Corpsman that were killed that day were brought home to a proper burial.

Trying to Discredit a Hero

Some news articles have been published, and others are on the way, implying that Dakota is not the person who deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions, or that he has lied about the actions that took place that day.

After the incident, there were two fact finding investigations (a 15-6 Investigation) done, one by the Army and a subsequent investigation done by the Marine Corps.  Both yielded a 15-6 report with their findings.   Everyone associated was interviewed: the people directly involved, witnesses that were there when the wounded were brought in, witnesses to the radio conversations during the request for air support, evacuations and during the actual time Dakota and his brothers went in to find the four missing men.

If the recent newspaper articles are correct, then the sources that are supplying this information about Dakota Meyer lied during the investigations.  If they lied during the investigation, not only is that an extremely serious offense, but it also makes you wonder how they expect us to believe them now?

Dakota's Book is Due Out Soon

Is this why these negative newspaper articles are coming out right now? I think that alone is a suspicious action. Why do it now? Is the reporter just trying to sell news so he makes a paycheck and this is a hot topic? Or is it that he is upset that he wasn't asked to collaborate on the book when he was actually there for the first 90 minutes of the firefight and left during an evacuation of the wounded? I'm sure he'll never share his motives, but I believe we'll see, in the course of the articles that are still scheduled to come out, exactly what his motivation is.

Sensationalism and Misinformation

The premise in one article is that Will Swenson, an Army Captain that was also in the Ganjgal Ambush battle, won't be getting the Medal of Honor that he was recommended for. The reporter is not privy to that information so how can he say that?

Another part of his article says that Dakota was not one of the people who went in to get the bodies of his friends. The 15-6 says otherwise. Everyone interviewed that was on the scene said otherwise. Why is this news just coming out and how did no one notice Dakota sitting on his butt doing nothing in the middle of a gunfight? I think that would have been pretty memorable.

The biggest distraction being brought up by those that want to make Dakota look bad is the actual number of people that Dakota saved during that battle. OK, the Marines gave a number. I think it was just to shut up the media that can't stop asking stupid questions. Really. How many? Does it matter?

Let's imagine this for a second. You are 21 years old. Your best friends are in an unknown location begging for help and then they go silent. You grab a buddy and say “I'm going to get them, come on” and you head for where you think they are. You are joined by others in the course of this mission and everyone is wanting to find their brothers or get them the damned air support they have been begging for. Or both. Both would be really nice. Now in the middle of this, your being shot at by 150+ Taliban that are armed to the teeth with things like RPG's. And they are now all shooting at you because you are a good target, coming right into their location. So you are shooting, they are shooting, you are screaming for your buddies, your buddies are screaming for their buddies, enemies and allies are all around, people are wounded, people are dying, and then...you find your best friends...dead...and now you are just trying to get their bodies out of there. Get them back where they belong. Get them home.

Now...how many people did you “save” in the course of that action?

So again, I ask – Does it matter how many people were saved? To at least one of the families of those men whose bodies they carried out that day, it's insignificant. The only thing that really matters is that they went in, they found what they were looking for, and they didn't leave anyone behind.

Dakota is a young hero and was given this highest honor that he never wished upon himself. He is moving on with his life and trying to make a difference to use his status to give back to others. He did not wish for this incident or the loss of his brothers in arms. We should be grateful he is here with us today, as Brent and I are, and stand behind him for his courageousness.

* The author, Wendy Westbrook, is the girlfriend of Brent Layton, father of James Ray “Doc” Layton, the Corpsman killed in the battle at Ganjgal on 08 September, 2009. For more information about the ambush and news following it, go to GanjgalAmbush.com. For more information about Dakota Meyer click here.