Dakota Meyer – the first living Marine in 38 years to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor – is participating in the 10th annual Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration on May 26 at Woodward Park.
Meyer along with Rear Admiral Donald Gintzig and former Director of the national Cemetery System Allen Clark will be in Manteca to honor the memory of fallen hero Navy Corpsman James Layton of Riverbank.
Layton’s image will appear on the 12th panel of the Welcome Home Heroes Traveling Tribute that lists the names of more than 7,000 Americans who have fallen in the Global War on Terror.
More than 20,000 people from throughout Northern California attended last year’s event that Pentagon officials have described as the largest of its kind on the West Coast.
Meyer received the Medal of Honor based on his actions the day Layton, 22, was killed in action September 8, 2009 near the village of Ganjgal in Afghanistan while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Meyer learned that three Marines and a Navy corpsman were missing after being ambushed by insurgents. He charged into an area known to be inhabited by insurgents and under enemy fire.
He ended up evacuating 12 wounded soldiers and provided cover for and 24 marines and soldiers to escape death at the hands of what superior officers have called “a numerically superior and determined foe.”
During the battle, Meyer was credited with killing six enemies.
Meyer eventually found all four dead and stripped of their weapons, body armor, and radios. With the help of Afghan soldiers, he moved the bodies to a safer place where they could be evacuated.
Meyer will speak during the Evening of Honor dinner taking place on Friday, May 24, at the Place of Refuge. Tables will be sold for $500 as the main fundraiser to underwrite the $50,000 plus it cost to stage the annual commemoration.
The May 26 event started with the 4th Annual “Wounded Warrior Christopher Braley 5K Run/Walk” at 8 a.m. sponsored by 24 Hour Fitness of Manteca.
The Welcome Home Heroes Traveling Tribute bearing the names of all of the fallen will be on display along with 7,000 crosses placed by the Manteca American Legion Post 249. Pastor Pat Schatzline will be speaking at the 10 a.m. Community Worship Service.
The Kids Energy Zone being sponsored by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District will feature dozens of large bounce houses from noon to 5 p.m. There will be military helicopter landings including a Vietnam era Huey beginning at 9 a.m. There will be several military aircraft fly-overs throughout the day.
The main stage will be filled throughout the day with various entertainment groups including the Air Force Band of the Golden West from Travis Air Force Base.
Gold Star family members will be escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders and welcomed by thousands at 3 p.m. before the dedication of the 12th panel.
A 6 p.m. ceremony will honor all veterans and wounded warriors.
The evening concert starts at 7:30 p.m. with Christian rock band The City Harmonic.
The 5th Annual “Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Car Show” with more than 400 entries will be on display throughout the day.
The event concludes with fireworks at 9 p.m.
The entire event is open to the general public at no admission cost. Those attending that make a $1donation will receive a commemorative dog tag.