They were welcomed into the village with rocket propelled grenades, mortars and gunfire. But Staff Sgt. John W. Hermann, a bomb disposal technician with Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, ignored his bleeding shrapnel wounds and ran through machine gun fire to save another Marine’s life.
For his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action,” in Afghanistan, Hermann was honored Thursday with the Silver Star. “His quick decision making, technical competence, and bravery saved the wounded Marine from enemy fire and enabled the platoon to continue clearing the village, resulting in the destruction of 13 enemy fighters,” said the citation signed by James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps.
Hermann and a reconnaissance patrol had been attacked that day, Feb. 26, 2008, amid the mud-walled crossroads of Dahaneh, a bastion of Taliban fighters and opium traders in the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand.
When the shooting started, Hermann and a teammate ran from their vehicle across open terrain and charged an entrenchment of enemy fighters. One Marine went down with a shot to the leg. After Hermann “single-handedly destroyed the enemy assailants,” he ran back for the wounded Marine as insurgents shot at him from another direction.
He applied a tourniquet, silenced another enemy machine-gunner, established a security cordon to protect the wounded and directed Marines to hunt the remaining fighters, Marine officials said.
Hermann, now a 32-year-old warrant officer on duty again in Afghanistan with the 1st Marine Logistics Group, had asked for the medal to be mailed to him, a spokeswoman for the unit said. Ignoring his request, Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commander of NATO forces in southwestern Afghanistan, joined other Marine officials and fellow troops to honor Hermann with a ceremony Thursday morning at Forward Operating Base Delaram II.
Brig. Gen. Charles Hudson, commanding general of the logistics group, pinned the medal to Hermann’s camouflage uniform. Hermann saluted and turned, his boots crunching on stone, and went back to work.