Moving Toward the Sound of the Guns
(July 21, 2010)
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan-Warrant Officer John Hermann
(center), 32, from Tucson, Ariz., explosive ordnance disposal officer for 1st
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward),
stands with Brig. Gen. Charles L. Hudson (left), commanding general of 1st MLG
(FWD), and Sgt. Maj. Antonio Vizcarrondo Jr., sergeant major of 1st MLG (FWD),
after being awarded the Silver Star medal at Camp Delaram II, Helmand Province,
Afghanistan, July 15, 2010.
Photo by Sgt. Brandon Owen
||CAMP DELARAM II, HELMAND PROVINCE,
Afghanistan (MCN - 7/15/2010) — As a hail of
gunfire overcame their convoy, a Marine and his
teammate dismounted and pursued the enemy
aggressors. At the site of his partner's leg
wound, he charged through the enemy's machine
gun fire, bringing the fight to them.
Standing at attention, Warrant Officer John
Hermann, platoon commander of 1st Explosive
Ordinance Disposal platoon, 1st EOD Company, 1st
Marine Logistics Group (Forward), and all in
attendance listened as his citation was read,
citing the heroic actions carried out by Hermann
on that day in Helmand province.
“It's important for the other Marines and
sailors to see the kind of hero that we have
amongst us,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Hudson,
commanding general of 1st Marine Logistics
Group, from Zirconia, N.C. “This Marine is, in
fact, a hero. He moved to the sound of the guns
and exhibited bravery under fire, he saved a
wounded Marine, and he also killed the enemy
along the way.”
Hermann deployed for the first time in 2003
during the initial invasion in Iraq shortly
after making a lateral move from infantry to
explosive ordnance disposal, redeploying to Iraq
again in 2004. His first deployment to
Afghanistan was at the end of 2007. Currently
to Delaram in the Nimruz province, Hermann is
managing various EOD teams operating within the
battalions working with RCT-2.
In 2007, then Hermann was attached to Company B, 1st Marine
Special Operations Battalion, out of Marine Corps Base Camp
Pendleton. Deployed from November 2007 to April 2008, they
conducted combat operations throughout Helmand province. |
“The routines were different; sometimes we would go out for
a few days to do humanitarian assistance operations and
provide medical services to different villages,” said
During the deployment, enemy engagements were frequent
according to Hermann.
“It was about 50/50. It wasn't every single day that we were
out, but it did happen,” said Hermann.
During a recon patrol that also included providing medical
care for tribal personnel, the enemy bit off more than they
“It was one of our longer reconnaissance patrols,” said
Hermann. “We had hit a few of the towns in the western
cluster. We did [Medical Civil Assistance Program]-type
things. The locals were happy to see us, it was nothing too
After a day of providing medical care to villagers and
getting acquainted with the populace, the convoy found a
place in the desert to sleep overnight. The next morning,
they approached a town called Dahaneh with the intent of
setting up another MEDCAP.
“Generally if there was going to be any kind of contact
within a village, it would already be abandoned by women and
children, or you would see them egress from the town as you
make your way into the village, but that wasn't the case on
that day. They were everywhere. They didn't expect us.”
According to Hermann, they were in the village less than
five minutes when everything started happening.
After they arrived in town, the second vehicle in their
convoy was struck with a rocket propelled grenade.
“As soon as it impacted the vehicle [the gunner] yelled
contact right,” said Hermann. “It was funny because the RPG
didn't detonate; it bounced off the truck then landed on the
ground. That is when everything else started.”
After the Marine yelled contact, more fire came upon the
convoy. With women and children still occupying the general
vicinity, it was difficult to fire on known targets,
according to Hermann.
“People were running to take cover so you had to be very
mindful of what you were doing and where your targets were,”
said Hermann. “Once that happened, we identified where the
insurgents appeared to be firing at us from, so we made the
decision to dismount and assault through the ambush.”
Alongside Sgt. Kurt Zimmerman, the vehicle commander for
victor one, Hermann and Zimmerman pushed into the village,
finding cover behind a building. After reaching that point,
they had a better view of the enemy. As they began to close
width on the enemy, the enemy fire became more accurate,
according to Hermann.
Between the opposing forces lied an open field. While taking
cover from a building, enemy fire still impacting around
them, Zimmerman and Hermann made the decision to cross the
field and eliminate the enemy threat.
“We took off, Zimmerman was right behind me,” said Hermann.
“We couldn't have gotten 10 or 15 yards and he was shot in
the left leg.”
Successfully making it to the trench line, Hermann jumped in
and destroyed the two man machine-gun team with his M4
semi-automatic rifle. Hermann then made his way back to his
teammate to help dress his wound.
“At that point, Zimmerman had crawled back behind the corner
of a building, struggling to get his tourniquet on,” said
Hermann. “I applied his tourniquet and dressed his wound.”
Shortly after, an additional machinegun opened fire on
Zimmerman and Hermann's position. At that point, another
fire team appeared with a corpsman, reinforcing their
“We passed Zimmerman off to the doc to ensure his wound was
taken care of properly,” said Hermann. “At that point, we
finished clearing through the town.”
As the fire team advanced with Hermann, the team's assault
resulted in the demise of another 11 insurgents. When asked
about his reason for returning to aid Zimmerman after
crossing an open field under enemy fire once before, the
answer was quite simple.
“I couldn't leave him,” said Hermann. “He would have done
the same for me.”
Hermann attributes the success of his team surviving that
day to two things: training and teamwork.
“Honestly, you don't have time to sit and think about what's
going on,” said Hermann. “You rely on your training. You do
what you're taught. It's a team effort. It's never just one
guy. People talk about heroics. Heroics happen every single
day out here, it doesn't matter what unit you're in.”
Article and photo by Sgt. Dorian Gardner
1st Marine Logistics Group (FWD)
Marine Corps News
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