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Medal of Honor recipients from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

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Cpl. Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on Sept. 15. He is the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since 1973. In 2009 at the age of 21, both American and Afghan troops were trapped under heavy fire while in Ganjgal to negotiate with village elders. Five times he entered into the kill zone with his Humvee. Repeatedly he jumped off the truck to drag wounded Afghan soldiers inside and look for his four fellow Marines. While he did save the lives of 13 Marines and 23 Afghan soldiers, when he found the four he was looking for they were all shot dead. He carried their bodies back while under fire. All he says about the incident is: "I don't remember being afraid. But looking back on it now, it's pretty crazy. I didn't have any idea I was even getting shot at. It was only like about 150 people shooting at me. I couldn't even tell. Nobody can say what they would do until they're in that situation. But it's what I trained to do. My brothers were in there I wouldn't expect less from anyone else in that situation."

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Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos was extremely proud. He said: "Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation's Corps of Marines. He is a living example of the brave young men and women whose service, fidelity and sacrifice make us so proud."

Following are the Medal of Honor recipients to date from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars:

• Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham

Born: Nov. 10, 1981

Awarded: posthumously on Jan. 11, 2007

Dunham was on patrol April 14, 2004, in Karabilah, Iraq, when insurgents attacked his unit. Upon seeing an enemy grenade, he dropped to the ground and covered the explosive to save nearby Marines. Dunham died eight days later from his injuries in the blast. He was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.

• Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta

Born: Jan. 25, 1985

Awarded: on Nov. 16, 2010

Giunta was serving in northeastern Afghanistan's Korengal Valley when insurgents targeted his squad on Oct. 25, 2007. As approaching fighters split his team into two groups, Giunta braved enemy fire to retrieve a wounded soldier who was being dragged away by the enemy. He was the nation's first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War.

• Army Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis

Born: June 14, 1987

Awarded: posthumously on June 5, 2008

McGinnis was the gunner for his Humvee during a convoy patrol on Dec. 4, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq. Enemy forces conducted an ambush, and an insurgent from a nearby rooftop threw a grenade into McGinnis' vehicle. McGinnis is credited with saving at least four other soldiers by throwing himself on the explosive and blunting its impact.

• Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller

Born: Oct. 14, 1983

Awarded: posthumously on Oct. 6, 2010

After leading a battle during a Jan. 25, 2008, reconnaissance mission in the Kunar province of northeastern Afghanistan, Miller and a small squad conducted a damage assessment. More insurgents ambushed the group, prompting Miller to order his men to move back as he rushed forward to counter the enemy. He continued shooting and throwing grenades despite his injuries.

Miller is credited with saving seven U.S. and 15 Afghan soldiers.

• Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor

Born: April 5, 1981

Awarded: posthumously on April 8, 2008

A grenade hit Monsoor's body and landed near his feet Sept. 29, 2006, on a rooftop in Ramadi, Iraq. He had the chance to flee through a nearby exit, but instead yelled "grenade!" and jumped on the explosive. He is credited with saving at least two teammates and several Iraqi soldiers.

Monsoor was a Coronado-based Navy SEAL.

• Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti

Born: Sept. 20, 1975

Awarded: posthumously on Sept. 17, 2009

On June 21, 2006, dozens of insurgents attacked Monti's team, which was at a small base in the Nuristan province of northeastern Afghanistan. He insisted on trying to rescue a fellow soldier who had been severely injured and left lying between the two forces' cover positions. Monti made three attempts despite heavy fire. After being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, he crawled back and asked comrades to tell his parents that he loved them before dying.

• Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy

Born: May 7, 1976

Awarded: posthumously on Oct. 22, 2007

Murphy led a four-man Navy SEAL reconnaissance team in June 2005 in a mountainous area of Kunar province, Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. Some local residents tipped off the Taliban, and soon Murphy's group was confronting at least 30 enemy fighters. During an hours-long battle, Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire so he could get a clear communications signal with headquarters and request air support. He was eventually killed. Murphy was the first member of the Navy to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.

• Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry

Born: July 29, 1979

Awarded: on July 12, 2011

Petry and his squad worked to clear a house that potentially had high-value insurgents on May 26, 2008, in the Paktya province of eastern Afghanistan. He was shot in both legs early into the mission, but managed to throw a grenade to provide cover for another injured soldier. The enemy moved closer and knocked down two more soldiers. After seeing a grenade land a few feet away from those servicemen, Petry grabbed the explosive and threw it away. The grenade exploded as Petry released it, ripping off his right hand. Petry continued to coordinate reinforcements after tying on a tourniquet himself.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at david.anderson@co.wadena.mn.us. As always, have a great week.

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