Medal of Honor recipient recalls deadly ambush

After several requests for help were denied, Dakota Meyer took matters into his own hands to try and save his trapped comrades in Afghanistan

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An investigation conducted after the battle determined that two Army officers making those decisions in the operations center that day "were clearly negligent." "The actions of key leaders" in the command center, the report said, "were inadequate and ineffective, contributing directly to the loss of life which ensued." Because of what the report calls "poor performance" and "an atmosphere of complacency," the operations center just did not realize how bad the situation was until it was too late.

"You can't sugarcoat it," said now retired Colonel Richard Hooker, who conducted the investigation.

"The two principal officers that were named in the investigation failed to discharge their duties in a responsible way - in a way that the army and the country [have] a right to expect them to behave," Hooker said.

Among the findings: two Kiowa helicopters armed with rockets and machine guns were minutes away from Ganjgal, but never made it into the battle.

"They were on another mission, but...they were close at hand," Hooker said.

"How far away? In terms of minutes?" Martin asked.

"I estimate five to ten minutes flying time," Hooker said.

Those helicopters actually broke away from their other mission and headed toward Ganjgal, but were recalled because the request had not gone through proper channels. The troops under fire didn't know that. They were told the helicopters would be there in 15 minutes.

"And up to this point it's been 15 minutes and no air support yet. So they request it again, and they said 15 more minutes," Meyer said.

Meyer said that after a half hour, he started "hearing the radio traffic it's starting to get worse. Gunny Kenefick, I believe it was, come across the radio and said, "I can't shoot back because I'm pinned down. They're shooting at me from the house and it's so close."

Meyer: "I'm not a hero"

Gunnery Sergeant Aaron Kenefick was one of the four trapped Marines.

"Those 15 minutes are starting to add up," Martin said.

"They are, yeah. We're almost 45 minutes and no air support. . . I believe that the enemy started seeing, well, they're not getting what they need. . . Let's take advantage of this opportunity," Meyer said.

Dakota Meyer, one of the youngest, lowest ranking Marines on the battlefield, took charge. "We had to do something," Meyer said.

After several requests to bring a truck in were refused, Meyer said, "I looked at Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez and I said, 'We're going in.'"

Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who would receive the Navy Cross - the nation's second highest honor - drove an armored truck toward the village while Meyer manned the gun turret.

"It felt like the whole valley turned on this truck," Meyer said. "It was like we're it, like here comes a big target."

"The enemy was just, they were running right at you, you know at the truck," Meyer continued.

"So this is not just raining fire down. Now they're trying to swarm the truck," Martin said.

"It's just like a killing fest for 'em [sic], I think," Meyer said.

"How close are the rounds coming to you when you were doing this?" Martin asked.

"The rounds were hitting the turret," Meyer said. "And I just kept moving back left and right, left and right.

"There was so much fire it sounded like static over top of your head," he added. "I was just waiting for one of those rounds to hit me in the face."