WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (AP) — When Pastor Bud Angus found out that a winner of the country's highest military honor was in his tiny community of Woods Bend, helping clean up from a deadly March 2 tornado, there was only one thing he could say.
"Anyone who would help is still a hero," Angus said Monday as he raked the yard at Woods Bend Community Church. "They deserve another medal."
Dakota Meyer, 23, a Kentucky Marine awarded the Medal of Honor in September, had arrived Sunday night in the tornado-ravaged town with four friends and six pieces of heavy equipment, ready to work. He had announced his plans on his new blog, "Actions Not Words," on Friday." On Monday, he sent several tweets from the scene.
"It's the worst thing I've ever seen in my life," Meyer told The Associated Press on Monday, taking a brief break from clearing trees and other debris from a tiny country road. "In war, you expect stuff like this. This is America, this is Kentucky. You don't expect this to happen here."
Meyer is credited with saving 13 American and 23 Afghan soldiers' lives in a grueling 2009 firefight in Afghanistan. The military's public statement on the battle said Meyer "personally killed at least eight Taliban insurgents, while providing cover for his team to fight their way out."
The marine says on his blog that "being honored and called a hero for the worst day of my life is something I still struggle to understand." He writes that he travels the country, speaking to groups.
"I'm not here because I have nothing else to do," Meyer said. "That's for sure. We're here because it's the right thing to do."
Meyer said when he and his friends arrived in town, they told officials they wanted to go to "places where people didn't have insurance and they needed help."
The group joined dozens of volunteers who have descended on the town since the tornadoes swept the state.
Meyer estimated he and his friends will spend at least $4,000 of their own money on equipment and fuel. They are staying in a camper at the local fairgrounds.
"Kentucky's shown me so much support since I've been back," he said. "So I've got to give back to them, too."