Marines Honor Fallen Platoon Commander
(November 18, 2010)
BASE SHANFIELD, Afghanistan (MCN -11/16/2010) — The dust of
Patrol Base Shanfield turned to gold as the sun started a
long plunge toward the Marjah countryside. As the Marines
came forward to pay their final respects, it peeked over
hesco walls and snuck under the camouflage netting that
covered the place where they knelt in honor of 1st Lt. James
Zimmerman, formerly the commander of 3rd Platoon, Echo
Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, received a
hero's farewell here, Nov. 11.
He was remembered as an unselfish, unwavering warrior who
was called to lead Marines.
“He didn't care about his reputation; he cared about the
Marines in his platoon,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Warren,
Zimmerman's platoon sergeant, now the acting 3rd Platoon
commander. “There was never any I or me. It was always us.”
“He always protected his Marines,” said Cpl. Joshua Carrier,
one of Zimmerman's squad leaders. “Whenever something bad
was coming down the wire, he said, ‘If it didn't come from
me, then it's not official.' He fought for our best
Warren called Zimmerman a natural leader. Zimmerman, he
said, had the innate ability to draw from his Marines'
knowledge to make his own decisions. Moreover, Zimmerman
thrived off the excitement of combat. Warren said he smiled
from ear to ear for three straight days after his first big
Cpl. Zachary Wallick, a squad leader with 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, pays his respects to 1st Lt. James Zimmerman, his former platoon commander, during a memorial service at Patrol Base Shanfield, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 11,
2010. Zimmerman was from Aroostock, Maine.
USMC Sgt. Jesse Stence
“I think Afghanistan brought out his true character,” said Carrier.
“He was honest, hardworking and strong mentally and physically. He
was a true warrior, and I think everyone looked up to him when we
were out there, getting it on with the enemy. You always knew that
if Lt. Zimmerman was coming out on patrol, it was going to be a bad
day for the Taliban. He was [relentless], always pushing forward.
And I honestly believe that he died doing what he loved: taking it
to the bad guy.”
The possibility of death is a reality that everyone in 3rd Platoon
has learned to live with, yet they don't dwell on it, said Warren.
They have developed an intimate bond that only a battle-hardened
unit can understand. They live from hour-to-hour during the best
times; during the worst, between the fragments of a second that it
takes an M-16 to eject a spent casing and chamber the next deadly
“I remember the last time I talked to Lt. Zimmerman, and I don't
think I'll ever forget it,” said Carrier. “The night of [Nov. 1],
Sgt. Dillon and myself were working out with sir [Zimmerman]. It was
around midnight when me and Sgt. Dillon finished, and when sir was
done, we sat around [talking] for about half an hour. We talked
about our experiences out here and the many close calls we all had.
The conversation ended by someone saying, ‘We still got a lot of
“And we obviously didn't think it would be that short. He kept the
platoon strong through our four prior KIAs and many casualties. He
kept us pushing to try and keep our minds off the pain, and it
worked most of the time. It's what he would want this time – for us
to keep pushing in his honor and the honor of all our fallen
Zimmerman, a native of Aroostock, Maine, was the son of Russell and
Jane Zimmerman, and the husband of Lynel Winters.|
His personal decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the Armed
Forces Reserve Medal, the Selective Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the
National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service
Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO ISAF Medal, and the
Combat Action Ribbon.
By USMC Sgt. Jesse Stence|
Regimental Combat Team 1
Marine Corps News
Comment on this article