For the first time in nearly 40 years, a living Marine has been awarded the nation’s highest military honor. Kentucky native Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor today. Two years ago in Afghanistan, Meyer traveled through a firefight with Taliban forces to search for missing comrades. He later helped retrieve four fallen soldiers.
“Dakota, I realize the past two years have not been easy for you, retelling the story of that day and standing here today,” said President Barack Obama. “You’re a very modest young man. But as you said, you do it for a very simple reason, telling this story—it helps you to honor those who didn’t come home.”
Before presenting Meyer with the medal, President Obama noted Meyer’s reluctance to retell his story.
“I have to say Dakota is one of the most down to earth guys you will ever meet,” he said. “In fact, when my staff first tried to arrange the phone call so I could tell him that I’d approved this medal, Dakota was at work at his new civilian job on a construction site, he felt he couldn’t take the call right then, because he said, ‘If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.’”
Meyer is the third living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He was discharged last year and has returned to Kentucky, where he works in the construction industry. He plans to pursue a business degree. A number of Kentucky lawmakers have expressed their support for Meyer in recent days.