Dakota Meyer

  • Aired:  10/24/12
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Afghanistan veteran Dakota Meyer recounts the battle of Ganjgal Valley, where he fought off waves of Taliban to recover the bodies of his ambushed squad mates. (7:07)

MY GUEST TONIGHT, A VETERAN OF THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN WHO IS A RECIPIENT OF THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR IN 2011, WHOSE

BOOK IS CALLED "INTO THE FIRE," A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY WATTLE IN THE AFGHANISTAN WAR.

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM DAKOTA MEYER.

[APPLAUSE]

YOUNG MAN.

>> WHAT'S GOING ON?

>> Jon: FIRST OF ALL, I AM STUNNED AFTER READING YOUR BOOK AT HOW MUCH IN COMMON YOU AND I HAVE.

[LAUGHTER]

>> REALLY?

WHICH PART?

>> Jon: A COUPLE BRAVE KENTUCKY FARM GUYS, EXCEPT FOR NOT ME.

THIS IS AN ABSOLUTELY... IT'S CALLED...

>> "INTO THE FIRE."

>> Jon: IT IS A SEARING LOOK AT THE BATTLE THAT YOU WERE IN, IN AFGHANISTAN.

WALK US THROUGH JUST VERY QUICKLY THE PARAMETERS OF THAT BATTLE.

>> YOU KNOW, WE HAD THE VILLAGE ELDERS COME IN AND TELL US THEY WANTED TO RENOUNCE THEMSELVESES

FROM THE TALIBAN AND INVITE US TO COME IN, AND THIS WAS THE ONLY MISSION THAT THEY LEFT ME OUT OF MY TEAMMENT THEY SENT ME

BACK TO MY VEHICLE.

THEY LET MY TEAM GO IN.

THEY REPLACED ME WITH ANOTHER GUY NAMED GUNNER SERGEANT JOHNSON.

THEY WERE GOING TO INTERTHE VILLAGE, SECURE A TOWN MEETING AND THE VILLAGE ELDERS WERE GOING TO RENOUNCE THEMSELVES

FROM THE TALIBAN, LIKE I SAID.

THIS IS HUGE FOR US BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU LOWER THE SUPPORTERS OF THE ENEMY, THEN OBVIOUSLY YOU LOWER YOUR FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.

AND THEREFORE YOU'RE STARTING TO WIN.

>> Jon: THIS IS A STRATEGIC BATTLE.

>> GANGIAL VALLEY.

IT'S LIKE A HORSESHOE VALLEY.

IN AFGHANISTAN, I'VE NEVER SEEN A PLACE WHERE YOU HAD THE HIGH GROUND TO BE HONEST BECAUSE YOU LOOK ON MAP, YOU'RE LIKE, WE'LL

GET TO THIS HIGH GROUND, YOU HAVE IT, AS SOON AS YOU GET UP THERE AND TREK UP THE MOUNTAIN, YOU LOOK UP, THERE'S ANOTHER ONE

HIGHER THAN US.

>> Jon: MORE HIGH GROUND UNTIL YOU GO ALL THE WAY TO EVEREST.

>> WHEREVER, EXACTLY.

>> Jon: WHEREVER THE HELL YOU'RE GOING TO GET TO.

>> WHO KNOWS.

SO ANYWAY, WE'RE GOING TO GO IN, SECURE THE TOWN MEETING, AND IMMEDIATELY UPON ENTERING THE VILLAGE, A TEAM IS UNDER ATTACK,

AND IT'S AN AMBUSH AND IT WAS DEFINITELY BIG, AND IT WASN'T LIKE NORMAL AMBUSHES.

MOST TIME IN AN AMBUSH TAKES TEN MINUTES, THE DUST SETTLES AND YOUR TRAINING KICKS IN, YOU STARTED DOING YOUR FIGHTING AND

THAT'S HOW IT IS.

NOT IN THIS ONE.

IT SEEMED LIKE EVERYTHING YOU COULD COUNT ON IN EVERY OTHER BATTLE WAS FAILING.

SO FINALLY AFTER A LITTLE WHILE ME AND STAFF SERGEANT RODRIGUEZ CHAVEZ SAID, WE GOT TO DO SOMETHING.

YOU KNOW, WE REQUESTED TO GO IN FOUR TIMES.

WE WERE TOLD NO EACH TIME.

THEN FINALLY WE JUST DID IT BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLE.

WE'RE TAUGHT OBEDIENCE TO ORDERS, BUT I CAN TELL YOU WHAT WE'RE TAUGHT MORE IMPORTANTLY IS A BROTHERHOOD.

AND IT'S ABOUT DOING WHAT'S RIGHT.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

>> Jon: WHAT'S SO INCREDIBLE ABOUT THIS IS, YOU KNOW, SO MUCH OF OUR VISION OF WAR IS GOOD GUY, BAD GUYS.

AND IN AN EVENT LIKE THIS, YOU REALLY SEE THE NUANCES OF... YOU ARE EMBEDDED WITH AFGHAN SOLDIERS THAT YOU ARE TRAINING,

AND THEY'RE THE ONES THAT ARE SUPPOSEDLY TAKING THE LEAD IN THIS BATTLE.

>> YEAH, YOU KNOW, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ADVISING THEM ON IT.

IT'S KIND OF LIKE WITH, HEY, YOU KNOW, IT WOULD BE GOOD, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MOVING THIS CUP OVER HERE?

>> PROBABLY NOT A GOOD IDEA.

>> WHAT DO YOU THINK IF WE MOVE THIS CUP THIS WAY A LITTLE BIT.

GREAT IDEA.

GOOD IDEA.

>> Jon: SO THEY'RE IN THE LEAD.

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: IT'S CUP MOVING WATCH.

>> YEAH, WHATEVER.

SO ANYWAY, WE WENT IN.

WE FINALLY WENT IN, AND WHEN WE GOT IN THERE, IT WAS... YOU TAKE YOUR WORST DAY YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE AND MULTIPLY IT BY A

MILLION AND WE JUST STARTED LAUGHING.

ME AND ROD WERE LAUGHING.

I COULD HEAR HIM OVER THE HEADSET.

HE WAS DRIVING.

HE WAS LAUGHING.

>> Jon: HE'S DRIVING AND HE'S UP ON A TOURETTE.

AND YOU GOT YOURSELF A 50 CAL?

SO YOU'RE JUST TRYING THE FIND WHERE THESE SNIPERS ARE.

>> NO, NO, NO, I HAVE GUYS RUNNING AT THE VEHICLE TRYING TO SWARM ME.

SO I'M TRYING THE KEEP THEM FURTHEST AWAY I.

CAN

>> Jon: TALIBAN.

>> YEAH, TALIBAN.

SO AFTER SIX HOURS OF SEARCHING FOR THE MISSING GUYS, I LOCATED MY TEAM.

THE HELICOPTER LOCATED THEIR LIFE LEGS BODIES IN A TRENCH AND I GOT TO THEM AND THEY PAID THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE.

I JUST...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

IT'S AN INCREDIBLE STORY.

[APPLAUSE]

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS SO INTERESTING ABOUT THIS STORY AND YOU LEFT OUT SOME OF THE DETAILS OF SOME OF HIS INCREDIBLE

EXPLOITS OF DEFENDING HIS VEHICLE FROM THE THREE TALIBAN THAT HAD ATTACKED IT AND THEN ALSO BRINGING BACK A LOT OF

WOUNDED PEOPLE BACK TO THE... I GUESS YOU'D CALL IT THE MARSHY AREA.

>> WE HAD A CASUALTY COLLECTION POINT.

>> Jon: AND THEN GOING BACK OUT INTO THE FIGHT AND CONTINUING TO TRY AND... THERE'S A PORTION OF A PLACE CALLED TOC.

CAN YOU TELL US?

>> TOC IS WHERE BASICALLY THE HIGHER-UPS STAY.

THEY MAKE DECISIONS FROM THERE.

THEY GIVE YOU... THAT'S WHERE ALL YOUR SUPPORT COMES FROM, ALL YOUR RADIO TRAFFIC GOES THROUGH.

IT'S LIKE A CENTRAL POINT TO WHERE BACK ON A SAFE, SECURE BASE, THEY MAKE DECISIONS.

AND THAT'S WHO FAILED US.

>> Jon: PART OF THE STORY IS THEY HAD TAKEN THE COMMAND OF SOME OF THIS OPERATION FROM THE GUYS ON THE GROUND THAT WERE

THERE AND PLACED IT IN TOC, AND YOU'RE CALLING THEM FOR AIR SUPPORT.

>> THEY MAKE THE FINAL DECISION, AND, YOU KNOW, IT'S SO FRUSTRATING FOR US OVER THERE BECAUSE YOU GOT A GUY LIKE ME

THAT'S ON THE GROUND.

YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE GOING TO SEND ME OUT ON PATROL AND TRUST ME ENOUGH TO GO ON PATROL WITHOUT YOU GOING WITH ME THEN

LET ME MAKE MY OWN DECISION.

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A DECISION, GET OUT THERE WITH ME.

YOU'LL MAKE A DIFFERENT DECISION IF YOU'RE GETTING SHOT AT.

>> Jon: SO YOU'RE CALLING THEM BACK AND SAYING, THESE GUYS ARE UP ON RIDGES AND YOU HAVE SIX POSITIONS WE CAN CALL IN.

>> WE HAVE FOUR U.S. MISSING TO TOP IT OFF.

AND WHEN THEY COME BACK AND THEY SAY, ARE THEY MARINES OR ARMY?

WHAT DOES IT MATTER.

>> Jon: IT WAS INTERESTING BECAUSE EVERY TIME THEY'D CALL, THEY WOULD CALL BACK WITH ANOTHER SORT OF STRANGE QUESTION.

>> YEAH.

YEAH.

THE LAST WORDS I HEARD OUT OF MY LIEUTENANT'S MOUTH WAS, HE GAVE A GREAT MISSION TO DROP SMOKE SO HE CAN EXTRACT BACK COVER MOVEMENT.

THEY CALLED BACK AND GAVE THE MISSION AND SAID, NO, IT'S TOO CLOSE TO THE VILLAGE.

HE SAYS, IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME THESE ROUNDS RIGHT NOW WE'RE GOING TO DIE.

AND THE RESPONSE BACK WAS "WELL, TRY YOUR BEST."

>> Jon: IT'S AN INCREDIBLE STORY.

I GIVE YOU AND RODRIGUEZ ALL THE CREDIT IN THE WORLD FOR BASICALLY IGNORING ORDERS BUT LIVING UP TO THE CREED WHICH YOU

SWORE TO PROTECT.

YOU'RE BROTHERS AND GOING BACK IN THERE.

STICK AROUND FOR A LITTLE BIT?

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: MORE WITH DAKOTA MEYER, "INTO THE FIRE." IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

DAKOTA MEYER.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

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