The Dakota Meyer Scholarship Challenge To America
Caption: Larry Helm, a Professional Truck Driver for Miller Transfer, has tranformed his 2007 Manc trailer with a Quick Draw retractable tarp system into a rolling billboard in honor of Sgt. Dakota Meyer’s Challenge to America. - photo by Pam Pollock
By Pam Pollock
Sgt. Dakota Meyer of the United States Marine Corp. served his Country with honor and pride and is now challenging America to give back. This young man is a highly decorated combat Marine, having earned:
- Medal of Honor
- Purple Heart Medal
- Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor
- Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
- Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
Sgt. Meyer’s other awards and decorations include the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one bronze campaign star, Iraq Campaign Medal with one bronze campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, NATO ISAF Afghanistan Medal, and a Rifle Expert Badge (3rd Award) and Pistol Expert Badge (2nd Award).
Born and raised in Columbia, Kentucky, Dakota Meyer enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2006, completing his basic training at Parris Island Recruit Training Depot. He was trained as a sniper and Marine infantryman. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was deployed in 2009-2010 to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Dakota Meyer’s website, www.dakotameyer.com tells of his heroism and acts of bravery on September 8, 2009. “President Obama awarded Sgt. Meyer The Medal of Honor in recognition of his acts of extraordinary valor on Sept. 8, 2009, which saved the lives of 13 US Marines and Soldiers and 23 Afghans. Over the course of a six-hour firefight, without regard for his own personal safety, Sgt. Meyer repeatedly braved enemy fire in eastern Afghanistan attempting to find and save fellow members of his embedded training team.
During an early morning joint operation to meet with tribal elders in Ganjgal village, Kunar province, Afghanistan, A remote village near the Pakistan border with a known insurgent presence, US Military, Afghan National Army and Afghan Border Police came under attack. Sgt Meyer watched as his team members were ambushed by more than 50 insurgents in well-fortified positions and armed with machine guns, assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The joint operation unit took cover, returned fire and made multiple attempts to call for artillery and air support. As casualties mounted, the unit remained pinned down at their position, encircled by enemy fire.
Sgt. Meyer took it upon himself to leave his relatively safe location and enter the kill zone to help his brothers. Already wounded by shrapnel, Sgt. Meyer entered the kill zone four separate times to evacuate trapped soldiers.
On his fifth trip in, Sgt. Meyer recovered the bodies of three missing Marines and a Navy corpsman killed in the battle.
Sgt. Dakota Meyer completed his active duty in 2010 and now serves in the Individual Ready Reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Since returning to civilian life he continues to work to tell the stories of the Marines with whom he served. He also has completed undergraduate college coursework and currently is employed by McDan, Inc. a Kentucky construction company.”
Upon his return to civilian life, Dakota partnered with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation to raise $1 million by the Foundation’s 50th anniversary on May 28, 2012. He has also issued a “Challenge to America” to match his efforts and raise an additional $1 million to “Honor Marines by Educating their Children.” This challenge allows Americans to help wounded Marines from all conflicts, especially the past 10 years, and forever change their lives by investing in a Marine student’s future.
Professional Truck Driver Larry Helm, an Army Veteran, is also from Columbia, Kentucky. When Larry heard about a young man [Dakota] from his home county of Adair who was going to receive the Medal of Honor, he vowed that Dakota Meyer would be remembered for his valor. Larry Helm recalled reading a newspaper article in 1979 about the death of Joe Ronnie Hooper in Louisville, Kentucky. Hooper was one of the most decorated soldiers in US Military history and remains one of the most decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War yet he died in relative obscurity. Helm did not want the same legacy for Dakota Meyer.
Larry Helm woke up one morning and realized that he had lived more days than he had left. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted the veterans and their families to be remembered for their sacrifices to our Country. He also wanted to build a public awareness of the Marine Corp Scholarship Fund. Helm, a truck driver for 44 years is leased to Miller Transfer and hauls in all 48 states. His ride of pride is a 2004 Peterbilt 379X with a sunroof in the sleeper, one of only 3 to be made. The trailer is a 2007 Manac single drop aluminum trailer. He decided to turn his trailer into a rolling billboard for the Dakota Meyer Scholarship Foundation. The trailer has a Quick Draw retractable tarp system. Quick draw generously donated the graphics for Helm’s tarp. Helm stated, “Gary and Kathy Smith in Franklin, Kentucky worked with me and helped me to get the trailer cover made.”
Larry Helm and his tractor and trailer are busy traveling the highways, spreading the word about the Dakota Meyer Scholarship Challenge. He says the feedback has been incredibly positive. Truckers and motorists will text “Dakota” to 50555 to automatically donate $10 to the scholarship fund. (The $10 fee will be applied to your cell phone bill.) Dakota’s challenge is simple: he has partnered with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation to raise $1 million by the Foundation’s 50th anniversary on May 28, 2012. He has also issued a “Challenge to America” to match his efforts and raise an additional $1 million to “Honor Marines by Educating their Children.”
Dakota Meyer stated, “"I chose to partner with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation on this initiative because of our common mission of supporting Marines and Navy Corpsmen families. Education paves the path for our future, and the money we raise will lead to a brighter future for the sons and daughters of many Marines."
For more information or to donate to the $1 Million Dollar Challenge, go to www.dakotameyer.com.