Meyer, responding Tuesday in a telephone interview to the Afghan survivors recollections, said, I dont care what Afghans say. They dont speak the same language.
He said that hed killed insurgents during his runs into the ambush zone but didnt count how many. Where did you ever have me saying numbers? he asked. When he was told that an account attributed to him published on the Marine Corps website said hed killed at least eight Taliban insurgents, he replied, You should talk to the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps remained adamant in the defense of its account of Meyers actions.
Two comprehensive investigations, eyewitness statements, a command inquiry and other supporting documents present clear, compelling and well-documented justification that Sergeant Meyer deserves our nations highest military honor, a Marine Corps statement said. Any attempt to denigrate Meyers bravery or the merit of his Medal of Honor is regrettable.
The Ganjgal battle produced a raft of other decorations for bravery after as many as 60 Taliban insurgents ambushed some 90 Afghan troops and border police, their American military trainers and a McClatchy correspondent who were on a patrol to meet village elders. Ten Afghans, three Marines and a U.S. Navy medic were killed, and a wounded U.S. Army sergeant died a month later.
The battle also resulted in reprimands for dereliction of duty for two Army officers, for failing to call in timely air, artillery and ground support.
Meyer wasnt among those caught in the ambush; he arrived as the recovery operation began. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor for helping to recover casualties at the risk of his life.
The McClatchy correspondent who was embedded with Meyers unit of Marine trainers at the time of the ambush interviewed the nine survivors from the Afghan National Armys 1st Kandak, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 201st Corps, in Kabul, in the eastern city of Jalalabad and at a small U.S.-Afghan base in Asmar, a mountain backwater in insurgency-wracked Kunar province, about 30 miles north of Ganjgal.
The men, none of whom had heard of Meyers Medal of Honor, spoke with permission from the Afghan Ministry of Defense. They were aided in their recollections by overhead photographs of the U-shaped valley of descending terraced fields divided by waist-high stone walls, and a Google Earth topographical model of the battlefield constructed by a military professional using date, time and location data obtained from digital pictures shot during the ambush.
The Afghans differed on some details, such as the timing of some developments. Several explained that they were illiterate and couldnt read a watch.
All nine, however, were consistent in saying that the belated arrival of U.S. helicopters forced the insurgents to withdraw, allowing the pinned-down Afghan and American troops to pull back.
The arrival of the helicopters had a 100 percent impact on the enemy, said Maj. Talib Khan, 54, of Kabul, who was the senior Afghan officer caught in the ambush. It was because of the firing by the helicopters that we were able to evacuate our wounded.
His version was backed by Nematullah, a 30-year-old private from Fakhar, in northern Takhar province, who suffered three gunshot wounds to his abdomen. Nematullah uses just one name, like many Afghans.