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Marine being considered for a Medal of Honor after a deadly mission

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Meyer is 22 years old, he served in a deadly mission in Afghanistan
  • The recommendation must still go to the Navy and Defense secretaries
  • If he wins, he will be only the second Marine to earn the medal from current wars

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Marine Corps' top leader has recommended a Marine from Kentucky for the Medal of Honor, CNN has learned.

Dakota Meyer is only 22 years old, but he's already seen enough for any person's lifetime. He was in Afghanistan's Kunar Province in September 2009 when he repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops.

"I was a failure," Meyer told CNN. "My guys died. That was my whole team."

The Marines don't see it that way. CNN has learned from a Defense official with knowledge of the award process that just before he retired, former U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway recommended Meyer for the nation's highest award for bravery.

Meyer has left the Marines and is back home in central Kentucky. He's only been told about the medal recommendation through unofficial channels.

And because of strict Department of Defense rules, the Pentagon does not comment on medal recommendations until the process is complete.

The commandant's recommendation is not the final step. It next goes to the secretary of the Navy, then the secretary of defense and finally to the president. At any point, the award could be changed to the Navy Cross, the Silver Star or another medal for valor.

If Meyer does win the award, he would become only the second Marine to earn the Medal of Honor from the current wars and only the second living Medal of Honor recipient in the past 36 years.

On November 16, President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta for heroic actions he took in Afghanistan's Kunar Province in 2007.

According to the Marine Times, which first reported the award recommendation for Meyer, then-Cpl. Meyer ran four times through a hail of enemy fire to recover the bodies of three fallen Marines and a Navy medic.

Meyer didn't want to discuss details of the incident because it's still difficult to think about.

"I sleep on it every night."

It's impossible to know how long it will take for the entire process to be completed. Meyer said if he is awarded the Medal of Honor, "it's for my guys, they gave the ultimate sacrifice."

 
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