War Hero Gets Career-Ending Reprimand

Captain Matthew Myer was honored March 30 at Fort Benning, Ga., where they received Silver Stars for their actions at the Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan.

The battle of Wanatwas the deadliest battle of the Afghan war. Taliban video shows the enemy surrounding a remote outpost, and shooting down on U.S. soldiers like fish in a barrel.

When it was over nine Americans lay dead.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports their company commander, Capt. Matthew Myer, was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in fighting off a much larger force. His voice is heard calmly talking to Apache gunships overhead.

"Be advised, we're in a bad situation," Myer said. "Need you to come in hot immediately."

The enemy was so close that Myer told the incredulous pilots to lay down fire within 10 meters of his position.

"I know it's high risk, but we need to get these guys off of us," Myer said.
"Ten meters," the pilot replied. "You got to be kidding me."

Exclusive: War Hero's Acts Faulted

Now Myer, along with two of his superior officers who were not at the battle, have received career-ending letters of reprimand for failing to prepare adequate defenses in the days leading up to the attack.

Forty-nine Americans and 24 Afghan soldiers had been ordered to set up the outpost deep in enemy territory.

More about the Battle of Wanat
Watch David Martin's Exclusive Report on the Wanat Battle
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"I was Just Starting to Live My Life"
9 U.S. Troops Killed in Afghan Attack

It was July of 2008, and according to Sgt. David Dzwick, they were short of not just troops, but basic necessities.

"The second day we were extremely low on water," Dzwick said. "When you start running out of water it's very hard to continue working through the heat of the day.

Despite warnings from villagers that an attack was imminent, an unmanned surveillance drone which had been watching over the troops was diverted to a higher priority mission.

"Not having surveillance was the concern for me," Dzwick said. "Part of the planning is that we would have some."

The first Apache helicopters got there an hour and five minutes after the Taliban opened fire. By then, Captain Myer was the only officer still alive.

Myer can still appeal but right now he has been both decorated and reprimanded for the same battle.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.