The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor that the United States bestows. It is given for personal acts of valor that go above and beyond the call of duty. It is a selective few who are awarded the medal and even fewer who earn it while still alive. The Turlock community will have an opportunity to meet one of those rare individuals when the Turlock Gospel Mission brings Sgt. Dakota Meyer to town.
Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011 for his actions at the Battle of Ganjgal in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Meyer will be in Turlock on Oct. 24 as the guest speaker at TGM’s salute to veterans and military personnel, which also serves as the organization’s fundraising kickoff for the fall and winter months.
“Dakota Meyer has a unique story to share that I think people will find very interesting,” said TGM Executive Director Tim Guerino.
The 27-year-old Meyer is a native of Kentucky who enlisted with the U.S. Marines Corps after graduating high school in 2006. In 2007 he was a scout sniper in Iraq. For his second deployment he was sent to Kunar Province in Afghanistan.
On Sept. 8, 2009, Meyer undertook an unapproved operation to rescue some of his fellow servicemen who had gone missing when they were ambushed by Taliban fighters. Meyer found the four missing servicemen dead and stripped of their weapons, body armor, and radios. Meyer, along with Afghan soldiers, entered the area under insurgent control and moved the bodies to a location where they could be retrieved. In his search, Meyer is credited with evacuation a dozen wounded individuals and providing cover for 24 Marines and soldiers that were pinned down by insurgents.
One of the dead servicemen that Meyer moved was Hospital Corpsman Third Class James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank.
Meyer recounts his action and the aftermath of the battle in “Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War,” which he co-wrote with Bing West. The book also served as a rebuttal to a 2011 McClatchy news story that questioned the Marine Corps version of the events.
The dinner with Meyer will start at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $25 and table sponsorship is still available, starting at a cost of $500 for six tickets. TGM is offering a free ticket to any active duty military personnel in uniform, along with an accompanying free ticket for a spouse.
“We also have options for people to buy a ticket or table and donate it to someone in the military or a veteran,” said Guerino.
TGM, which opens their winter relief ministry for women and children on Nov. 1, is hoping to raise $50,000 at the event.
For tickets to the event, visit turlockgospelmission.org or call 606-1873.