The news is that Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer earned his Medal of Honor in Afghanistan, but not the way the Marines say he did. Details were unnecessarily embellished and fabricated, McClatchy Newspapers report. The scent of scandal not only tarnishes Meyer's medal but makes it more likely that a fellow nominee in the ambush at Ganjgal, Army Capt. and Seattle native William Swenson, won't receive his medal at all.
Meyer, who was awarded his medal by President Obama at a September White House ceremony, had already been dealing with criticism that the accounts supplied by the Corps' Public Affairs Office had been inflated, and has sued a former employer for defamation. Reports McClatchy:
Marine officials, who requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, acknowledged that portions of the narrative were changed from the account [Meyer's commander, Lt. Col. Kevin] Williams submitted. They said the changes occurred between July, when Obama approved Meyer's medal nomination, and the September White House ceremony. Inaccuracies were written into the citation and the narrative of Meyer's deeds, although the narrative contained far more errors and exaggerations.
Army Capt. Swenson, the Seattle native who was at Meyer's side during parts of the battle, was nominated for a Medal of Honor in December 2009 -- months before Meyer's nomination -- but it remains under review after being lost for 19 months, according to the Army.
The account of the battle in Swenson's nomination is sharply at odds with the Marines' account of Meyer's deeds, McClatchy reports. As well, Swenson angrily criticized Army officers who, despite repeated requests, refused to send fire support that day. Some suspect that's the reason he's not received his decoration.
Meyer himself says it's "ridiculous" that Swenson hasn't been honored, according to the Marine Corps Times. Like Meyer, Swenson repeatedly braved fire and engaged enemy fighters while helping evacuate U.S. and Afghan casualties from the kill zone. "I'll put it this way," Meyer said. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be alive today."