McClatchy reports today that the Marines may have publicized a version of the story that won Dakota Meyer a medal of honor this September that doesn't fit what actually happened. You'll recall the story in which he rode a Humvee into battle to save some ambushed fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, eventually returning into the line of fire several times to rescue bodies, injured soldiers, and Afghan citizens. But in a rather depressing and lengthy exposé, McClatchy's Jonathan Landay reports that military documents show discrepancies in some of the details of the story as published by the Marines and told by Obama at an award ceremony. Landay also reveals that he was one of the Americans ambushed that day, giving some first-hand credence to his claims. Landay writes:
Sworn statements by Meyer and others who participated in the battle indicate that he didn’t save the lives of 13 U.S. service members, leave his vehicle to scoop up 24 Afghans on his first two rescue runs or lead the final push to retrieve the four dead Americans. Moreover, it’s unclear from the documents whether Meyer disobeyed orders when he entered the Ganjgal Valley on Sept. 8, 2009.
And addressing his own knowledge, he writes:
McClatchy found that the claim that Meyer saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers couldn’t be true. Twelve Americans were ambushed — including this correspondent — and of those, four were killed
Landay notes that this whole thing is too bad since by most accounts, the parts of Meyer's story that can be verified probably add up to enough to merit the Medal of Honor anyway. The Marines for their part say "stood by the official citation that was produced by the formal vetting process. Asked to explain the individual discrepancies and embellishments, the Marines drew a distinction between the citation and the account of Meyer's deeds that the Marines constructed to help tell his story to the nation," Landay reports. Read all the details of what's verifiable and what's in question in Meyer's tale at the McClatchy site. Ultimately, though this sounds like there were a lot of confused versions of events put forward by several people in a lot of different places from which the public affairs guys at the Pentagon drew the best (and perhaps incorrect) details, but that Meyer's heroism that day merited his medal, making the details, as one person quoted in the story asserts, "secondary."