Thursday, May 16, 2013

Off Topic----Into The Fire: Earning A Medal Of Honor In The Afghan War

Into The Fire: An First Hand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War, Dakota Meyer and Bing West, Random House, 259 pages, 2012, $27.00.

From the Publisher: During the fall of 2009, Taliban insurgents ambushed a patrol of Afghan soldiers and Marine advisers in a mountain village called Ganjigal. Firing from entrenched positions, the enemy was positioned to wipe out one hundred men who were pinned down and were repeatedly refused artillery support. Ordered to remain behind with the vehicles, twenty-one year-old Marine corporal Dakota Meyer disobeyed orders and attacked to rescue his comrades.

With a brave driver at the wheel, Meyer stood in the gun turret exposed to withering fire, rallying Afghan troops to follow. Over the course of the five hours, he charged into the valley time and again. Employing a variety of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and even a rock, Meyer repeatedly repulsed enemy attackers, carried wounded Afghan soldiers to safety, and provided cover for dozens of others to escape—supreme acts of valor and determination. In the end, Meyer and four stalwart comrades—an Army captain, an Afghan sergeant major, and two Marines—cleared the battlefield and came to grips with a tragedy they knew could have been avoided. For his actions on that day, Meyer became the first living Marine in three decades to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Into the Fire tells the full story of the chaotic battle of Ganjigal for the first time, in a compelling, human way that reveals it as a microcosm of our recent wars. Meyer takes us from his upbringing on a farm in Kentucky, through his Marine and sniper training, onto the battlefield, and into the vexed aftermath of his harrowing exploits in a battle that has become the stuff of legend.

Investigations ensued, even as he was pitched back into battle alongside U.S. Army soldiers who embraced him as a fellow grunt. When it was over, he returned to the States to confront living with the loss of his closest friends. This is a tale of American values and upbringing, of stunning heroism, and of adjusting to loss and to civilian life.

We see it all through Meyer’s eyes, bullet by bullet, with raw honesty in telling of both the errors that resulted in tragedy and the resolve of American soldiers, U.S. Marines, and Afghan soldiers who’d been abandoned and faced certain death.   Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, with nonstop pace and vivid detail, Into the Fire is the unvarnished story of a modern American hero.

CWL:  When U.S. Army leadership failed, and when Washington DC policies contradict the situation on the ground, Sergeant Dakota Meyer did everything in his power to save the lives of his comrades in arms, both Marine and Afghan. Born and raised in rural Kentucky, Meyer excelled as a Marine Corps school trained sniper and then as a combat infantryman. In a combat situation in which everything that could go wrong did go wrong, Meyer provided boots-on-the-ground leadership and courage.

Into The Fire: An First Hand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War is an clear and concise story of an unrealistic Pentagon policy crafted in Washington, D.C. that encumbers the effectiveness of combat teams and their ability to call in artillery fire and reconnaissance support.  An unnecessary tragedy occurred at Ganjigal.

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