Childhood & Early Life
Dakota Louis Meyer was born on June 26, 1988, in Columbia, Kentucky, U.S., to Felicia Gilliam and Michael Meyer. He was not academically brilliant. He had made up his mind about joining the American armed forces while still studying at the ‘Green County High School.’
He was a tall, fit, and athletic young man, who was passionate about serving his country in the Middle Eastern conflicts. He came to know that the ‘U.S. Marines’ were recruiting in Louisville, Kentucky. He thus moved there and got himself enlisted.
He was sent to the ‘Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island,’ South Carolina, for basic training. After completing his training, he was sent to the Middle East to join the American forces there.
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In 2007, he was deployed in Iraq (his first deployment) as a scout sniper. However, he did not spend much time there.
Following this, his second deployment brought him national and international attention. He was sent to join the American troops in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, where he became part of the ‘Embedded Training Team.’ There, in September 2009, Dakota learned from a radio announcement that a ‘U.S. Navy’ corpsman, three marines, and a few Afghan soldiers were missing after a hardcore ambush by around 50 Talibani insurgents.
Dakota and the other marines were told not to take any action, but Dakota was hell-bent on rescuing his friends. He thus defied orders and entered the “killing zone,” an area that was swarming with enemies. Nevertheless, they were determined to search for the fellow Americans.
He hopped onto a gun-truck and took the gunner’s position, while one of his ‘Marine’ friends took charge of the driving wheel. In order to locate the kidnapped ’Marines,’ he entered the enemy territory and opened fire on the insurgents. They attacked the area many times, and in the first few attempts, they rescued many Afghan soldiers taken prisoners by the Talibanis.
Eventually, during the fifth trip, Dakota realized that the missing American soldiers could only be located on foot. Hence, he hopped down from the truck and entered the enemy territory.
He eventually found the dead bodies of all four American army men. He then removed all weapons and radios from their bodies. When he saw a Talibani soldier trying to take the bodies with them, Dakota attacked him. In a hand-to-hand combat, Dakota killed the insurgent with a rock. With the help of some Afghan soldiers, he carried the dead bodies of the ‘Marines’ to a spot from where they could be extracted easily.
However, Dakota did not emerge unscathed from the entire incident. He sustained a bad shrapnel wound to his arm and later said that he had not expected to come out alive from the entire ordeal. He was 21 years old back then.
The news about Dakota’s bravery became public in November 2010, when General James Amos told reporters that a living ‘Marine’ had been nominated for the ‘Congressional Medal of Honor.’ It was big news, as it was a rare feat for a soldier to earn the honor while still alive. The story was published in the ‘Marine Corps Times’ a few days later. More media organizations confirmed that the ‘Marine’ was Dakota Meyer. Thus, he became a national hero.
In June 2011, it was further announced that two more ‘Marines’ from his team would be awarded with the ‘Navy Cross,’ the second-highest honor. By then, however, Dakota had retired from the army, owing to his arm wound, and had taken up a construction job.
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The ceremony took place at the ‘White House,’ on September 15, 2011. When Dakota was informed about the ceremony, he asked whether he could share a beer with the president. He also requested the authorities to hold commemorative services for his deceased colleagues, to honor their memories.
Dakota wrote the book ‘Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War’ in collaboration with former ‘Marine’ and author Bing West. In the book, Dakota suggested that a ‘Marine’ named William D. Swenson, too, deserved a ‘Medal of Honor.’ Swenson later received the medal.
Life Post War
Dakota Meyer suffered from PTSD, a mental disorder that affects a lot of American war veterans. Once, while partying with a friend, Dakota tried shooting himself in the head. He then underwent treatment for PTSD. His symptoms came under control after he was treated with opioid drugs, but he later said that cannabis could have been more useful in the treatment of the disorder. Since then, he has been a vocal supporter of legalization of cannabis for medical usage.
He appeared in the fourth season of the popular combat series ‘Maximum Warrior.’ The competitive show featured 10 military operators carrying out 10 challenges lifted from military trainings. Dakota was eliminated from the show in the eighth episode.
Since his retirement, he has also appeared on many popular TV talk shows, such as the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ and ‘60 Minutes.’ He has also been part of the hugely popular podcast called ‘The Joe Rogan Experience.’ In addition, he has also appeared in several other TV series, such as ‘America Live,’ ‘Home & Family,’ and ‘Citizen Soldier.’
In December 2011, several news articles questioned the accuracy of the coverage of Dakota’s heroics. The articles mentioned that the total number of lives that he had saved had been exaggerated. However, not a single one of them questioned his ‘Medal of Honor’ nomination.
He worked for a defense contractor company named ‘BAE Systems’ in 2011. Dakota was later fired from the company. According to him, this was because he had questioned their arms deal with Pakistan. The dispute was resolved by both parties in December 2011.
Family & Personal Life
Dakota Meyer got engaged to Bristol Palin in 2015. She is the daughter of Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska. They, however, called off the engagement a few months later.
Later, in December 2015, Bristol gave birth to their child. Dakota and Bristol were granted joint custody of the child. They got married in 2016. Dakota had his second child with Bristol in 2017. However, the couple eventually divorced in August 2018.
He is known to be a heavy drinker.