A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War
In the fall of 2009, Taliban insurgents ambushed a patrol of Afghan soldiers and Marine advisors in a mountain village called Ganjigal. Firing from entrenched positions, the enemy was positioned to wipe out one hundred men who were pinned down and were repeatedly refused artillery support. Ordered to remain behind with the vehicles, twenty-one year-old Marine corporal Dakota Meyer disobeyed orders and attacked to rescue his comrades.
With a brave driver at the wheel, Meyer stood in the gun turret exposed to withering fire, rallying Afghan troops to follow. Over the course of the five hours, he charged into the valley time and again. Employing a variety of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and even a rock, Meyer repeatedly repulsed enemy attackers, carried wounded Afghan soldiers to safety, and provided cover for dozens of others to escape – supreme acts of valor and determination. In the end, Meyer and four stalwart comrades – an Army captain, an Afghan sergeant major, and two Marines – cleared the battlefield and came to grips with a tragedy they knew could have been avoided. For his actions on that day, Meyer became the first living Marine in three decades to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Into the Fire tells the full story of the chaotic battle of Ganjigal for the first time, in a compelling, human way that reveals it as a microcosm of our recent wars. Meyer takes us from his upbringing on a farm in Kentucky, through his Marine and sniper training, onto the battlefield, and into the vexed aftermath of his harrowing exploits in a battle that has become the stuff of legend.
Investigations ensued, even as he was pitched back into battle alongside U.S. Army soldiers who embraced him as a fellow grunt. When it was over, he returned to the States to confront living with the loss of his closest friends. This is a tale of American values and upbringing, of stunning heroism, and of adjusting to loss and to civilian life.
We see it all through Meyer’s eyes, bullet by bullet, with raw honesty in telling of both the errors that resulted in tragedy and the resolve of American soldiers, U.S. Marines, and Afghan soldiers who’d been abandoned and faced certain death.
About the Authors
Bing West was assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under President Ronald Reagan. He served in the Marine infantry in Vietnam. Later, as an analyst at the RAND Corporation, he wrote the Vietnam classic The Village, that war colleges use as a primer in counterinsurgency. As a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, West has covered the war for five years. His books on Iraq – No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah and The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines (co-authored with MajGen Ray Smith) – have won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for nonfiction, the Colby Award for military nonfiction, and the Veteran of Foreign Wars Media Award. West is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; his articles appear in The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, and other major newspapers. He appears on National Public Radio and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.
Sgt. Dakota Meyer was born and raised in Columbia, Kentucky and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2006. A school-trained sniper and highly skilled Marine infantryman, Sgt. Meyer deployed to Iraq in 2007 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom during 2009-10. In 2011, he was awarded the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, for his service in the Battle of Ganjjgal.
Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, with nonstop pace and vivid detail, Into the Fire is the true story of a modern American hero.