I am convinced there is no smarter, handier or more adaptable body of troops (U.S. Marines) in the world…Always spick and span, ready at an instant’s notice for duty, the nation owes them a great debt. Winston Churchill – 1917
On November 10, 1775 a Committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia and resolved that 2 battalions of Marines be raised for amphibious warfare. In the 237 years since* the Marines have been defending our shores and projecting U.S. power abroad in every corner of the world.
It was just before dawn in Northeastern Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009. A team of U.S. Army and Marine trainers were accompanying a battalion of Afghan soldiers into Ganjgal. The mountains erupted in a hail of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades. Skilled and equipped Taliban fighters had formed a U-shaped ambush around both the U.S. and Afghan troops.
Meyer, a corporal at the time, was toward the rear in a Humvee equipped with a Mark-19 grenade launcher. Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez was driving. They radioed a request for air support. When the air support didn’t come, they requested permission to join the fight. The request was denied — diving into an ambush seemed like suicide.
“We knew what we had to do. So we just decided we were going to go in there on our own,” Meyer said. “We were either going to go in there or we are going to die trying … that’s your brothers in there.”
They drove into the center of the ambush rescuing Afghan troops and providing cover so U.S. forces could escape. The record shows that dozens of people, U.S. and Afghan, now owe their lives to the actions of Meyer and Chavez.
They returned to the valley five times looking for members of Meyer’s team. Their truck was damaged so they swapped it for one with a more effective 50-caliber machine gun mounted on top.
When Meyer and Chavez finally found their comrades, they had all been killed.
To all of the Marines past and present I say thank you for your service and Semper Fi
* The Continental Marines were disbanded at the end of the Revolution in 1783 and reinstated in 1794.