John Meyer always wanted to serve his country. He grew up in an Air Force family and applied to multiple academies and ROTC programs before being recruited to play soccer at West Point. His year at the Prep School provided added maturity and focus, giving him confidence entering the Academy. He learned a great deal leading Cadets in the field as a second-detail Buckner squad leader. His most important leadership experience, however, was on the Men’s Soccer Team. After his second serious shoulder injury forced him to make a choice between playing soccer and commissioning, he remained with the team as a goalie coach during his junior and senior years. He felt that the peer leadership experience he gained provided a strong foundation. After commissioning as an Infantry Officer, he joined 2nd Platoon, B Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. His unit was just being formed, and the Soldiers were a brand new cohort straight from Basic Training. With about 10 months before an expected deployment to Iraq, they focused on intense training to get the new Soldiers ready. Shortly before deploying, they were diverted to Afghanistan, and quickly discovered the rigors of operating at altitude. On July 27, 2007, his unit was involved in a serious engagement outside of Saret Koleh, during which they lost two Soldiers (including the Company Commander) and had about a platoon’s worth wounded. Solid leadership, effective training, courage and discipline prevented disaster and allowed the Sky Soldiers to inflict serious damage on their well-trained enemy. For his actions at Saret Koleh, John Meyer was awarded the Silver Star, and is the recipient of the 2020 Nininger Award.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his West Point years, and his Army experiences. He reflects on the camaraderie of the Soccer Team and how former teammates take care of each other, even while deployed. He describes training for deployment, and provides examples of how it paid off in combat. He explains, in detail, the actions on July 27th, highlighting specific accomplishments of his Soldiers. He briefly covers other aspects of his career and lessons he learned in each assignment. Finally, he reflects on what his service and West Point mean to him.