Susan Price, the mother of fallen Marine Gunnery Sergeant Aaron Kenefick, said on the Tom Bauerle radio show that military commanders may have been complicit in the ambush that killed her son and four other soldiers and Marines.
The action she describes is the infamous Battle of Ganjgal, where Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor and former Army Captain Will Swenson has reportedly been nominated for the Medal of Honor as well.
Her son was a Recon Marine and was “Marine of the Year” twice in ten years.
An Air Force Combat Controller will be awarded the Air Force Cross – the service’s second-highest decoration for valor – for actions during a 2009 firefight in Afghanistan.
Taliban fighters had ambushed TSgt Robert Gutierrez and a team of Army Special Forces soldiers from 7th Special Forces Group, pinning them down in a building with no escape route. Gutierrez had been shot, had a collapsed lung, and broken ribs. Despite his injuries, he refused to set down his M4 rifle or stop using his radio to call in deadly air strikes against the enemy – even while the team’s medic was treating his injuries.
Gutierrez called for three A-10s strafing runs on the Taliban, directing the deadly fire as close as 30 feet from the Americans.
Gutierrez’ air support destroyed the Taliban fighters and allowed the unit to get out alive.
“It never is about oneself; it is always about the others first, then you last,” said Gutierrez, who at the time was assigned to Pope Air Force Base’s 21st Special Tactics Squadron. “I had a second to think about not making it. After that, I told myself that I was going to get up and fight. I had an unborn child to see and my wife and family to come home to.”
And military.com reports that another veteran of the Battle of Ganjgal, Capt. William Swenson, has been nominated for the Medal of Honor. Former Marine Dakota Meyer also participated in the battle and was awarded the Medal of Honor this month at the White House and his citation can be read here.
It was rumored that Swenson would not be considered for the Medal due to his criticism of the rules of engagement that played a role in denying artillery support from the ambushed unit. Five American troops, eight Afghan soldiers, and their interpreter were killed in the fighting, and 20 were wounded.
Meyer says it is “ridiculous” that Swenson hasn’t been recognized yet: “I’ll put it this way,” Meyer said in an interview. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive today.”
Two other Marines were awarded the Navy Cross for their role in the engagement.
“We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We’ve lost today,” Marine Maj. Kevin Williams told his Afghan translator as Afghan soldiers repeatedly asked for helicopter support. American military trainers and the Afghan soldiers they were working with had been pinned down by intense machine gun, rocket-propelled grenade, and mortar fire for several hours, and the artillery support they had been promised was being withheld by commanders at a nearby forward operating base.
The combined force of 60 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, 20 Afghan border police, and 13 U.S. trainers set out before dawn on Sept. 8, 2009 to search the rugged Afghan village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province for weapons and to conduct a meeting with local officials. The town had just recently rejected the Taliban’s authority in favor of the Afghan government. The village elders had requested that Afghan troops would conduct the sweep, and the embedded American trainers were present in case air or artillery support was required.
As the unit approached the village, situated in a valley encircled by craggy mountains, the town’s lights suddenly turned off – a likely sign that the mission has been compromised. Minutes later, the first shots were fired at the column, and the force was quickly enveloped with heavy machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The Americans and Afghans took cover behind rock walls, and the enemy began an attempt to flank the pinned-down unit.
As a force of about 100-150 enemy fighters maneuvered to flank the unit, the American commander called for the helicopter and artillery support that had been assured before the men set out. Although the unit was informed that helicopter support would arrive within five minutes, a reporter who had embedded with the unit stated that helicopters didn’t arrive for 80 minutes after the call – the helicopters were fighting another battle in the nearby Shuryak Valley, and two pilots had reportedly been shot.
The unit was taking heavy casualties, surrounded on three sides, their radio only working intermittently, when they learned that the artillery support they had been promised earlier was not coming. Despite assurances that the requested targets were not near the village, officers at the nearby forward operating base came back on the radio and informed the Americans that new rules of engagement prevented them from allowing any artillery near the village in order to prevent civilian casualties. When the team requested smoke rounds be fired to hide their retreat, the fire base did send white phosphorous rounds – 50 minutes later. Reports also state that commanders did not comply with repeated requests for reinforcements via the on-call quick reaction force.
On Sept. 8, 2009, three U.S. Marines, their Navy corpsman, and a soldier were killed as U.S. commanders withheld artillery support. As I write an article on the matter, I wanted to post my sources so others may read about this battle. If there can be a bright spot from this, the military is reportedly going through the process of determining whether former Cpl. Dakota Meyer of Kentucky is to receive the Medal of Honor. If confirmed, Meyer would be the second recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor since the Vietnam War.
Rep. wants answers on Ganjgal ambush probe
Heroism in ambush may yield top valor awards
Ambush survivor up for Medal of Honor
Report: Army denied aid to team under fire
Deadly Afghan ambush shows perils of ill-supplied deployment
‘We’re pinned down:’ 4 U.S. Marines die in Afghan ambush
Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook became the fifth U.S. soldier to die as a result of an ambush last month in Afghanistan. Despite assurances that air support was only five minutes away, the team had to wait over an hour, and despite repeated calls for artillery support (and assurances that the enemy wasn’t near the village), commanders withheld artillery support – thanks to new emasculated rules of engagement.
The 41-year-old native of Colorado Springs, Colo. was on his last tour before his retirement. Westbrook’s brother died in Iraq in 2007 while serving in the National Guard.
In addition to the five U.S. deaths, nine Afghans died and 20 U.S. and Afghan soldiers were wounded.
The names of the other fallen Americans:
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James R. Layton, 22, Riverbank, Calif.
Marine 1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson, 25, Virginia Beach, Va.
Gunnery Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick, 30, Roswell, Ga.
Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson, Jr., 31, Columbus, Ga.
Here’s the McClatchy story on the Sept. 8 firefight in which three U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman killed in a seven-hour firefight with the Taliban.
According to an interview with the story’s author, Jonathan S. Landy, the helicopter air support that was supposedly 5 minutes away finally arrived 80 minutes after the request, but the helicopters were purportedly involved in another attack. Commanders however did decline to allow artillery support, citing the new rules of engagement designed to minimize civilian casualties (and eliminate the possibility of victory).
Four U.S. Marines were killed in action following implementation of new politically-correct rules of engagement in Afghanistan. Despite assurances from Gen. McChrystal and top military officials that air and artillery support would be used when U.S. troops were threatened, commanders denied repeated calls for support from the unit. Eight Afghan soldiers and police and an interpreter were also killed in the firefight.
From the Straits Times (Singapore):
A team of Marines made repeated appeals for air and artillery support after coming under fire in the village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province on Tuesday, McClatchy newspapers reported.
US commanders declined the request for artillery fire, citing new rules that seek to minimize civilian casualties, a McClatchy journalist accompanying the American unit reported.
Air power, in the form of helicopters, only arrived after more than an hour ‘despite earlier assurances that air cover would be five minutes away,’ McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay wrote.
Once again we see that politicians in Washington have become a bigger obstacle to victory than the actual enemies themselves. This is no way to conduct a war.
ADEMOLA D. FABAYO
for service as set forth in the following
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to First Lieutenant Ademola D. Fabayo, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. First Lieutenant Fabayo and other members of his team led two platoons of Afghan National Security Forces into Ganjgal Village for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders when the dismounted patrol was ambushed by roughly 50 enemy fighters in fortified positions. With four fellow team members cut off, he pushed forward on foot into the kill zone in an attempt to regain contact, effectively engaging the enemy at close range with his M-4 rifle. When a U.S. Army Advisor was severely wounded, he moved from a covered position under heavy fire to assist in his recovery, helping carry him across several hundred meters of fire-swept ground. He drove back into the kill zone with another U.S. Army Advisor in an unarmored truck, despite enemy rounds impacting the vehicle, in an attempt to reach the separated team members. After treating and evacuating several wounded Afghan Forces, he took the gunner’s position on a gun-truck with three other U.S. personnel as they again drove into the kill zone to recover the bodies of the four fallen team members, providing effective suppressive fires with the vehicle mounted machine guns. By his decisive actions, bold initiative, and complete dedication to duty, First Lieutenant Fabayo reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
DAKOTA L. MEYER
for service as set forth in the following
For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Corporal Dakota L. Meyer, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. When the forward element of his combat team began to be hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes above Ganjgal village, Corporal Meyer mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and Afghan soldiers. During a six hour fire fight, Corporal Meyer single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, saved 36 Marines and soldiers and recovered the bodies of his fallen brothers. Four separate times he fought the kilometer up into the heart of a deadly U-shaped ambush. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded, and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe. On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers. His second attack disrupted the enemy’s ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines. Switching to another gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and as turret gunner killed several Taliban attackers at point blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out. Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members. By his extraordinary heroism, presence of mind amidst chaos and death, and unselfish devotion to his comrades in the face of great danger, Corporal Meyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Born: 26 Jun. 1988 in Columbia, Ky…. Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7… Is only the second Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during the War on Terror and is the first living Marine to receive the Medal since the Vietnam War.