Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War

  • by Dakota Meyer, Bing West
  • Narrated by Zach McLarty
  • 5 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"The story of what Dakota did . . . will be told for generations." (President Barack Obama, from remarks given at Meyer's Medal of Honor ceremony)
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 100 men who were pinned down and were repeatedly refused artillery support. Ordered to remain behind with the vehicles, 21 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.
Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, with nonstop pace and vivid detail, Into the Fire is the true story of a modern American hero.
"Sergeant Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation's Corps of Marines. . . . [His] heroic actions . . . will forever be etched in our Corps' rich legacy of courage and valor." (General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps)

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What the Critics Say

"Into the Fire is a deeply compelling tale of valor and duty. Dakota Meyer will not identify as a hero, but he will, I think, accept the title warrior. Dakota's storytelling is precise and, for a Medal of Honor recipient, touchingly humble. With deft prose he drops us smack in the middle of one of the most heinous small unit firefights of the current wars. His insights into military tactics and politics in a war zone are sharp and uncompromising and work as a primer on infantry war fighting for the uninitiated. Dakota was a magnificent marine and he is now an equally magnificent chronicler of warfare and the small group of people who do today's fighting for America." (Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead)
"[Bing] West's greatest strengths are his exceptional personal courage and his experienced perception of combat." (The Washington Post)
"West [is] the grunts' Homer." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Exceptional Memoir

I have always tried to read the memoirs or biographies of Medal of Honor recipients. This is the memoir of the only “living” Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor in over 40 years.

Sgt. Dakota Meyer begins by telling about some of the missions he had just prior to the Ganjigal episode. Then he proceeds to September 8, 2009 with ninety Afghan Soldiers and fifteen U.S. Military advisers moving into Ganjigal in the Kunar Province to meet with the village elders. The meeting was a trap. Sergeant Meyer was not with the team that day; he had been ordered to stay with the Afghan reinforcement troops at the entrance to the box canyon.

The team reported the ambush and asked for help; which was refused. They asked for artillery barrage, which was refused. They asked for close air support and that also was refused. The reason for the refusal was the “rules of engagement”. Sgt. Meyer asked to go help his team and was refused. He disobeyed a direct order and went to help. Staff Sgt Juan Rodriquez-Chavez was driving the armored Humvee and Sgt. Meyer was on the gun. They headed straight into the shooting. The Taliban held the high ground. Over the next few hours they made five trips into the kill-zone to rescue wounded and dead Afghan and U.S. soldiers and marines. Sometimes Sgt Meyer was in hand to hand combat. Thirteen U.S. and Afghan soldiers died and most were wounded; they all might have died if not for Sgts Chavez and Meyer. Meyer feels he is a failure because he failed to save his team who all died that day. SSgt Chavez received the Navy Cross but because Sgt Meyer repeatedly left the protection of the vehicle he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Sgt Meyer reports these men died or were wounded because the chain of command failed them. Sgt Meyer tells the story of Army officer, Captain Swenson, who also was nominated for the Medal of Honor that fateful day, but the Army has lost or held up the paperwork even though the high ranking field officers keep pushing for the Award. It is reported the investigation whitewashed the whole event. Zach McLarty does a good job narrating the story. McLarty is an actor and writer who is making a name narrating audiobooks.
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- Jean

Very Good Read

What did you love best about Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War?

it was a very exciting read. you find yourself feeling as if you were right there with them


What did you like best about this story?

I liked the fact the author didn't try to glamorize himself or any of the others. They are just great American Hero's that have things go wrong, just like the real world. You never have the feeling that the truth may be being exaggerated to feed any egos


Which character – as performed by Zach McLarty – was your favorite?

Dakota. He seams like a good honest guy. But all the hero's in this book are worth noting. After all they all put their lives on the line for our freedom


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I did spend time sitting in my driveway listening until the chapter ended because i didnt want to miss anything


Any additional comments?

A very well written book. we really have some great Americans protecting us overseas

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- Russell

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-25-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio