Michael's Dispatches

Don’t Tar and Feather our Warriors


16 December 2011

I’ve made it back to America after being away about one year.  I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to be on US soil.  This morning, in Tucson, two A-10 Warthogs flew overhead.   The last time I saw A-10s was in Afghanistan.  They were shooting just about every day.

Now for some sad news.  Today there are more stories about Dakota Meyer.  Dakota was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during his incredible and honorable service in the Marines.  These stories are saddening because the more you read, the more you realize that Dakota is being tarred and feathered.  This clearly is about politics and business.

And so this morning I emailed to someone I know to be close to Dakota, offering moral support.  This American remains beside you.

A trusted source also sent this dissection of recent comments that are designed to cut down Dakota:

Jonathan Landay has alleged that the Marine Corps deliberately inflated the heroism of Sergeant Dakota Meyer. This allegation has tarnished the reputations of the Marine Corps and of Sergeant Meyer. Landay quoted not one individual. Instead, he used statements made two years ago by those on the battlefield.

There are many contradictions internal to those statements. For instance, Staff Sergeant Rodriguez-Chavez at one point stated, “… the fourth time we went into the valley.. we saw Swenson.” Actually, that happened during the second trip into the valley. Such inconsistencies in memory are normal. Ask eleven football players what happened in a game, and you will receive eleven different answers. Imagine how much more confusing it is in battle!

Landay spent months poring over written statements. He wrote, “It's impossible to reconstruct a clear, chronological account of much of what followed from the statement.”  He then selected some sentences that supported his bias, and ignored other sentences. The result was a series of half-truths, inconsistencies and errors, as illustrated below.

1 Landay: “Rodriguez-Chavez recounted the Afghans got into the vehicle themselves on both runs. He said Meyer stayed in the turret, firing a Mk 19.”

Error: On the first run, the Mk 19 jammed. They switched to a truck with a .50 cal for the second run.

2 Landay: “Meyer didn’t save the lives of 13 U.S. service members… helicopters saved the remaining (six) Americans.”

Comment: Two outposts with four Americans and over a dozen Afghans were under continuous fire, as were the six Americans pulling out of the valley. Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez, in the only vehicle in the valley, became the bullet magnet for the insurgents, drawing their fire and, with Meyer on a .50 cal in the turret, preventing open enemy maneuver.

Consider these written statements: Rodriguez-Chavez: “Meyer laid down suppressive fire” Swenson: “They (Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez) drive forward; they provide suppressive fire.”

The fact is there was suppressive fire both from the light helicopters and from Sgt. Meyer’s .50 caliber. Landay knew that, because he saw Meyer. Yet he chose not to report what he saw.

3 Landay: “Meyer killed one, not eight”

Comment: The most famous Medal of Honor recipient in World War II - Audie Murphy - is credited with killing over one hundred Germans. His book is filled with killings. Yet if Murphy required eyewitnesses, nowhere near one hundred would have been credited. Similarly, this is true of the MoH for SEAL Lt Murphy in the 2005 battle in Afghanistan. There wasn’t the verification or exactitude Landay is demanding.

Consider these other statements not used by Landay: Fabayo: “I saw 2 woman/children fire two RPG at CPL (Meyer).” Swenson: “How close the fight actually was, we are talking about people 20 meters away..” Rodriguez-Chavez: “Meyer shot one right next to the door with his M4.”

(Rodriguez-Chavez drove over another one, and later Meyer killed another in hand to hand combat)

Meyer, a deadly shot, fired over a thousand rounds of .50 cal and 7.62 machineguns. Are we to believe he killed insurgents at point blank range, but missed every other target over the course of six hours of shooting?

4 Landay: “Statements undermine the claim that Rodriguez-Chavez and Meyer drove into the valley against orders… Marine Corps doctrine authorized the two staff sergeants to take that initiative.”

Error: the night before, Meyer told SSgt Rodriguez-Chavez he had arranged with his team to drive in to get them if an ambush occurred. When the ambush began, over the radio 1st Sgt Garza ordered Meyer not to   come. When Rodriguez-Chavez and Meyer called a second time, they were told to get off the radio. Meyer then said, “we’re going in”.

Two staff sergeants did not discuss this; up at his observation post, SSGT Valadez was told they were going in. He then offered to observe the road. It is disingenuous to assert that Marine doctrine authorized the two staff sergeants to take initiative. It was Meyer who persistently showed initiative, despite orders to the contrary.

5 Landay: 1st Sgt Garza “called Meyer forward” when he (Garza) was at the Casualty Collection Point”

Error: Meyer had already been forward in the valley on three trips, and had covered Garza’s escape to the Casualty Collection Point.

6 Landay: “Meyer didn’t ride in the unarmored Ford Ranger pickup with Swenson.”

Error: Meyer was in the Ranger with Swenson. It was just the two of them. Swenson has said this repeatedly. Swenson was driving. He helped Dakota put the body of Dodd Ali, Dakota’s best friend among the Afghan soldiers, in the back of the Ranger while they were under fire.

7 Landay: “The account of the battle in Swenson’s nomination is sharply at odds with the Marines’ account of Meyer’s deeds.”

Error: the fact is that the Marines and Meyer have struggled for two years to insure Swenson is recognized as equally courageous and determined. In fact, Meyer has sent to the Army two pages of testimony, explaining in detail that Swenson was the man in charge on the battlefield and concluding that he, Meyer, is alive only because of Swenson. By portraying battlefield confusion as deliberate exaggeration, Landay has jeopardized Swenson’s nomination.

8 Landay: “No sworn statements refer to him leaping from the Humvee’s turret to rescue 24 wounded Afghan soldiers.”

Error: Both Rodriguez-Chavez and Swenson have said that Meyer repeatedly left the safety of various vehicles to run in the open under fire to aid Afghan soldiers.

9 Landay: “The official account doesn’t explain how the pair could have evacuated 24 Afghan soldiers."

Misleading:  Does not take account of the whole battle. Meyer began picking up Afghans at about 0700. First trip: 5. 2d trip: 4. That’s nine.

Then from 0930 (when Landay left the battlefield) to 1130, Meyer stayed in the valley. Between 0930 and 1130, at least six Afghan pickups drove in and out behind the gun truck. Meyer was in at least five different trucks during six hours of battle. All witnesses attested that Meyer was hopping in and out of the trucks to help the wounded. There were 90 Afghan soldiers in the valley when the battle began. Meyer had an overstuffed medbag, with more than 14 tourniquets. He used all the tourniquets.

Nine plus fourteen equals 23, not 24. But the figure of 24 is not misleading; it is illustrative of Meyer’s efforts.

In sum, Landay selected sentences to buttress his assertions. But other statements contradict Landay. There is no evidence of deliberate exaggeration. There is ample evidence of battlefield confusion. That is to be expected.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Patrick · 8 years ago
    Journalist's in this country are pathetic. Thanks for keeping the truth in the open Mike, can not thank you enough for that.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rudy · 8 years ago
    Thanks for the post, Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    matt · 8 years ago
    Thank you
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tracy ClarkBrown · 8 years ago
    Welcome to Tucson!!!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Prufrock · 8 years ago
    for the clarifications. It felt like a hatchet job, but I couldn't evaluate the writer's expertise or attention to detail. This helps.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      S. Murphy · 8 years ago
      The reporter was embedded with the ETT, and is apparently an experienced war reporter. He wasn't trying to attack Meyer. He was trying to clarify details.
      In the process, he seems to have muddied the waters, which is unfortunate.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Corey Comeau · 8 years ago
    Michael -

    Welcome to Tucson. Love to meet you and buy you a beer since your in my city. Been following you since I came home in 2004. Offer stands brother....beers on me.

    SFC Comeau
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dan Smith · 8 years ago
    McClatchy hates America, hates the US military. They published many outrageous lies during the Iraq war, so the latest POS they've published comes as no surprise.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Andy · 8 years ago
    With regard to the Sgt Meyer issue. I am disgusted at the crappy way that people are trying to discredit this genuine hero. I don't personnally give a hoot whether the body count is wrong. These young men stood up and were counted and did something that 99+% of us mere mortals would nothave the guts to do. Sgt Meyer, please know your gallantry and selflessness is honored by my family.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Kemp · 8 years ago
    Welcome Home! Thank you for your articles. If you get to San Diego, I'd be honored to buy you dinner and drinks. CMDCM Jim Kemp, USN, Ret.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron Handke · 8 years ago
    Does not matter the facts speak, but only can be from those at the fight, not a news reporter. He did the job as trained to do, does not matter how many he stopped from harming our guys, he did it his way and got it done, AMEN
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JimMtnViewCAUSA · 8 years ago
    Here's one link I saw in comments at another blog, there are a couple more links close by to show that there is an agenda at work.
    Just disgusting.
    "The question that begs to be asked, of course, is why the story told about a genuine military hero deserves an "exhaustive assessment" while the claims of the other man in the photo, his president, remain almost fully unexamined three years after his election."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    matt · 8 years ago
    The way corporate America works, there is no fairness. Only winning. The timing of the McClatchey article is highly suspicious.

    While in the middle of contentious litigation with a former employee, an article demeaning that employee appears in the national press. SOP for the corporate world these days.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TJ IN MO · 8 years ago
    Landay was a frequent guest on Olbermann....that alone should destroy his credibility
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank · 8 years ago
    This is BS! If this story was only half true Dakota still deserves the MOH. This Jackass Landry,the bias reporter should start chasing leads on Pennsylvania Avenue. Their plenty of fabricated lies their and on the hill. Salute to Dakota!
    Great reporting Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pat Patterson · 8 years ago
    I don't trust embeds that were probably not close to the action to make judgements. I just read a book on the Lost Battalion from WW1. MAJ Charles Whittlesey was awarded the MOH but after the wars was criticised by jealous Army officers, many of whom were armchair generals and never were in battle. Not much different in their methods. Semper Fi Dakota.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Ryden · 8 years ago
      So Landay was an imbed with the unit at the time of the battle and the heroic actions of Meyer, Swenson and others? Sorry to ask, just haven't heard of this Landay character before.
      No matter who he is though, I can't for the life of me get around my head why he wants to slander heroes in this way. Actually, scratch those last five words and substitute it with "slander heroes in any way".
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gerry · 8 years ago
    Dakato deserved the MOH.

    He didn't deserve the hatchet job because he disagreed with BAE.

    Maybe the reporter should look what the DOD got from BAE and the JCAD program for $75,000,000. ZIP!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      catchesthewind · 8 years ago
      Now it all makes sense. He disagreed with BAE. I suppose that what happens when you challenge the big boys. GOD bless Sgt. Dakota Meyer. Semper Fi marine. Semper Fi.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Judy Buchan · 8 years ago
    What else would one expect from the mainstream media? May I add my Semper Fi, Dakota. Stand strong.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SnakeyTrickerCharlie · 8 years ago
    Who cares what this moron write has to say. Not you, Michael -- Ha -- but the guy who wrote the story. The more press he gets, the more legitimacy is added to his absurd column.
    Those of us who have "been there" understand Sgt. Meyers' valor and will stand with him throughout time. Chalk up the columnist's palaver to ignorance and hate. And let it go at that.
    I am so proud to have worn the uniform that Dakota Meyers also wears.
    Semper fidelis.
    Snakey Tricker Charlie
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mary · 8 years ago
    Always consider the source. Who is this Landay, and what is his motivation for saying these things? Was he not included in the honors? Was he slighted or ignored during the battle? What was he doing during the entire battle and how did he happen to see everything that Dakota Meyer was doing? It sounds like all involved were doing their jobs well and are deserving of honor and respect for it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Andy · 8 years ago
    Will someone please tell me what happened to my country? I went to bed one night, and woke up to a country that no longer holds heroes or their heroic acts in high regard. Instead they attack them. This is just a small part of what’s wrong with this country. The Army and Marine Corps are places where people still care about one another. So much so, they are willing to die for a comrade that they may not even like! Rather than be proud of our brave countrymen, we smear them. This young man did not ask to be awarded the Medal of Honor. In fact, like so many other MOH recipients, he feels that he did what any other Marine would have done.
    I honestly think that my country has gone insane! Have we reached the point of no return? I was a baby in 1967, so I don't remember what it was like in my country while our heroes were serving in Vietnam. I'm sure some felt as hopeless as I do right now. Right now, I think we're all SCREWED!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ken · 8 years ago
    It was McClatchy News that led the way on the fabricated story that Tea Party members used the "n" word towards Democratic politicians. In their initial reporting and, more importantly, their later unwillingness to reconsider the complete absence of any factual basis for their story, they clearly marked themselves as committed to political advocacy rather than to journalism. In short, they are not a news organization. Anything that they print should be regarded as, most likely, the complete opposite of the truth.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron Fox · 8 years ago
    We are many,We are strong,We are the Trusted point of the spear.Do not ever allow our Corp to be soiled by anyone.I stand with you Dakota.Semper Fidelis
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chuck Peterson · 8 years ago
    I had read that story this morning, and I do think there were a few valid points, like the focus on awarding medals, specifically the MOH, as well as a point being made that the intent of the article was not to take anything away from obvious valor that Sgt. Meyer had shown, even to the degree that he was within the specs for the MOH, yet the accounts seemed to have been embellished.
    The problem with that article is it take a "devils advocate" approach, and even while acknowledging Sgt. Meyers obvious heroism, it casts doubt on and politicizes the award bestowed on this young Marine, and in my opinion, crosses a boundary that should be left alone. If you've ever worked as an OC in a training exercise, you get 10 different stories from 10 different troops. So imagine combat, with the adrenaline and emotions, and try to get a straight story from everyone involved. Picking that apart, whether intended or not, casts a pall over the award, and Sgt. Meyer as well.
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    John-Capt in ANG · 8 years ago
    First, if you roll with the pigs in mud, you'll just get dirty and only the pig will enjoy it.

    Secondly, I personally don't care if he killed 1, 10 or 1,000. He's a Marine. He did his duty under extreme conditions, did it professionally, and "Made it Matter" (the phrase of the current Star General nowadays). Give him the MoH and he can be an advocate for the tens of thousands of Marines who served with, before, and after him. USMC doesn't get enough respect in my book, when it comes to recognition. That's my .02.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JFindley · 8 years ago
    There is often a thin line between being brave or stupid. I, for one, am thankful that there are young men and women stupid (brave?) enough to do what needs to be done, in spite of the dangers. Major respect for Dakota and all the other troops who are on the line doing the dirty work for the political whims of our "fearless" leaders. But it does scare me that the government wants the authority to send men and women like this into American towns and cities to round up American citizens and have them indefinitely incarcerated with none of the civil rights "guaranteed" by the Bill of Rights. It concerns me that one day in the not too distant future some polito may decide that an independent journalist that prints the truth about Army stupidity, for instance, is aiding and abetting the enemy and needs to be locked up.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron Fox · 8 years ago
    Stand over a new Marine grave and read your stupid comment about being Stupid Brave.Our legacy has been built by Brave Patriots.You are not obviously one of them.You are a sad example of what is not called Patriot.Pick up a m-16 and fight for your family if you have the balls.Im pleased to not know you personally.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JFindley · 8 years ago
    @Ron: You misread my intent with the comment. It was in no way meant to be negative.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JFindley · 8 years ago
    @Ron: Well, at least not intended to be negative with regards to the troops. I might have intended a bit of negativity towards our civilian leadership.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Callender · 8 years ago
    For those not familiar with the Marine Corps, they generally don't give away medals with the same abandon that the other services do. And Marines generally aren't into a whole lotta fruit salad the way other services are. The Corps is about quiet professionalism, not chest beating. If you get put up for the MoH, you earned it. If the entire Chain of Command signs off on it, you can bet that it happened.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    George · 8 years ago
    It is obvious that in addition to Dakota Meyer, that Army Captain Swenson also deserves the MOH. I hope the reviewing authorities see clear on this.

    Don't let an Olberman lackey like Landay throw smoke on these heroes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barry Sheridan · 8 years ago
    One wonders quite what Mr Landay is after here, perhaps he hopes for a little fame to revive a flagging career from the controversy. It being clear that subjecting any summation of a complex action to microscopic analysis may well end up revealing uncertainties. Realistically this seems entirely normal, as few ever agree precisely on what happened and when in stressful circumstances. However, what stands beyond reasonable doubt in this instance is that exceptional courage was on display, this means the recommendation for a MOH award has all the validity it requires. Perhaps if Mr Landay had been a direct observer on the day then his views might have carried real weight, however as it stands his analysis can only represent a calumny.

    Please Mr Landay, find something useful to do with your talent. Write about the protracted failings of Congress or some other group who deserves it, leave those who fulfil every obligation of duty and honour alone, you, nor I, are fit to judge.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Terry · 8 years ago
    enough said
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim Lum · 8 years ago
    Thankyou Dakota Meyer for your courage in the Afghan war and in exposing corporate greed. Who would go thru a door with Landay?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rudy · 8 years ago
    You needn't worry -60% of the military comes from the SOUTH - we don't give a damn about the federal govt -ps, we are armed!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Baird · 8 years ago
    How about giving up Lindsays email address? I have a comment or three for him. Thanks Sorry...Landry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Wood · 8 years ago
    This Landry maybe should be dropped off in Taliban central for a while.....guess who he would pray to have his butt saved by....The Marines, thats who. Cpl. Meyer acted with total disregard for his personal saftey and went above and beyond. He deserves the MOH, and our thanks. God bless him and the rest of our men and women who step into harms way so we all can sit down with our familys in peace this holiday season.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kurt Olney · 8 years ago
    I am glad Dakota Meyer is alive. I was not there. To be honest, I would be frightened out of my senses if I were there. Dakota Meyer took the medal as a Marine and for the Marines.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James Peterson · 8 years ago
    People / pundits seem to forget that he did not write up the after action report or the Request for Award.

    From what I have seen / heard / read he has kept a low profile and has never said that he was a hero -- only others put him in that position.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Austen · 8 years ago
    Sadly these accusations will be believed by a section that wish to believe them and that will always be the case. Landay should hang his head in shame for the part that he played in tarnishing this hero.... despite all denials this will always be a footnote to Dakota.... Wiki is just one example.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakota_Meyer
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rammar46 · 8 years ago
    This journalist is just trying to make a big deal out of nothing, like most do. They grasp at any little bit of error or bad information that they can get. It really is dispicable. No one should speak badly about warriors unless they have been through the same enviroment.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Olen · 8 years ago
    "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."

    Check, so what's the problem? Even if you take the journalist view point, criteria met. Sorry, I'm just an old soldier and Marine, who has seen those that either, weren't there or wouldn't do it, try to make light of those that did for way to long.

    Most of those that react to the call for Corpsman, Medic, or Guns up deserve this award. That so few actually get it says more about how going above and beyond is routine by those facing these situations. This young Marine deserves it, if for no other reason than others that were there, and saw what he did, found it remarkable enough to recommend him for it.

    Semper Fi.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles J. Gluck · 8 years ago
    Mr. Yon, what do you expect from a country that treated me and my fellow soldiers, like shit, when we came home from Vietnam. The Left never learns, it is what they did to me. Made me feel like the US policy was my doing. I never wanted the new vets to feel that way. I tell them I'm grateful every chance I get.

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