White House stands by Medal of Honor award
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is standing by his award of the Medal of Honor to a Marine in the Afghanistan war despite a published report charging exaggerations and untruths in the official account of his bravery.
Obama presented the award to Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer on Sept. 15, calling him the "best of a generation" that joined the military after 9/11. He described the day in 2009 when Meyer braved enemy fire in eastern Afghanistan to save U.S. and Afghan comrades.
But McClatchy Newspapers said its review of documents turned up numerous assertions that are "untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated."
Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday the award was based on sworn testimony, reviewed by the Marine Corps, and Obama "remains very proud" of Meyer and his "remarkable acts of bravery."
The Marine Corps also said it stands by the process that determined Meyer deserved the medal.
"The rigorous award investigation process focuses on source information from direct eyewitnesses and other contemporaneously or near-contemporaneously recorded information," said the statement from Marine headquarters at the Pentagon.
The Marines acknowledged that the process was not flawless.
"Because of the nature of the events supporting awards for valor, it is normal for minor discrepancies to appear when reviewing the source information and collecting eyewitness statements," it said.
The Marines also acknowledged that the public narrative of Meyer's actions on the battlefield, as it appeared on the Marine Corps website, was his "personal account" of what happened. "We supported this communication method in large part because of Sgt. Meyer's personal desire to not retell with each interview, and thereby relive, what he calls the 'worst day of his life.'"