Washington, D.C. --
Marine Barracks Washington and Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, honored the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War, during his own parade at the Barracks Sept. 16.
Though President Barack Obama gave Sgt. Dakota Meyer his Medal of Honor at the White House the day prior, Amos presented the native of Columbia, Ky., with his official Medal of Honor flag during the ceremony here.
"It was a great honor to be recognized by the commandant and the 'oldest post in the Corps,'" said the 23-year-old. "It's the place I requested the ceremony be held at."
Meyer was awarded the nation's highest military award for valor for his actions in the Battle of Ganjgal, in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in 2009. Ambushed by more than 50 insurgents, Meyer braved heavy enemy machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire five times, saving the lives of 36 Afghan and American troops.
"It wasn't a matter of if I was going to die, but when I was going to die," said the former scout sniper. "All I was thinking about was getting my guys out of there."
Manning the machinegun of a Humvee, Meyer personally killed at least eight enemies during the six hours of fighting. Meyer was also injured early on, receiving several shrapnel wounds in his right arm, but pushed on with the fellow members of Embedded Training Team 2-8. Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who drove the vehicle Meyer fired from, was also recognized for his actions in the fight, receiving the Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy's second highest award for valor.
"When you leave the perimeter, you don’t know what’s going to happen, regardless of what war you’re fighting in," said retired Sgt. Maj. Allen Kellogg Jr., the last living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, which he was awarded for actions in Vietnam in 1973. "Once you get to a point where you make the decision 'I'm probably going to die, so let the party begin,' once you say in your mind you aren't getting out of there, you fight harder and harder."
Despite the publicity and media attention, Meyer has remained humble, usually answering questions by stating the medal really honors those who died that day or that he simply did his job.
"I didn't do anything more than any other Marine would," said Meyer.