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Bravery under fire earns Yuma Marine Bronze Star

27 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

A station explosive ordnance disposal technician was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Combat V during a ceremony at Ditto Hall here Aug. 21, 2009.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Lee Sherwood, station EOD staff noncommissioned officer in charge, earned the award for his heroic actions while deployed in Afghanistan from April to September 2008.

According to the award citation, on April 29, 2008, Sherwood, while under enemy fire, marked the location of nearby Taliban fighters with smoke grenades so they could be engaged.

Using a clearing charge to reduce an improvised explosive device blast, Sherwood then proceeded to detonate an IED, all while under enemy rocket fire.

The fire fell close to his team’s unarmored vehicle, forcing them to seek cover. Fearing the vehicle – carrying an EOD robot, explosives and other gear – would fall into enemy hands, Sherwood rushed to the vehicle and drove it more than 300 meters to safety.

Furthermore, on Aug. 4, 2008, Sherwood responded to yet another IED located on top of an observation post and disarmed it by hand.

During the deployment to the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, Sherwood regularly attached with units of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element to destroy IEDs, unexploded ordnance and weapons caches.

“The IED problem wasn’t as bad then as it probably is now,” said Sherwood. “The Taliban had never had to fight a force as formidable as the Marines at that time. The Marines’ strong push into the Helmand River Valley destroyed their will to fight, and denied them the ability to gain a foothold in the region.”

Sherwood, while grateful for the award, recognized that he is not the only Marine that deserves recognition.

“So many Marines out there deserve it,” said Sherwood. “I don’t feel that I deserve it any more than other Marines, especially ones that have given their lives out there. I’m just appreciative that I made it through and was able to come back and see my family.”

Sherwood has gained the trust, support and respect of the Marines he leads and works with.

 “Sherwood is a pleasure to work with,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ralph Crye, station EOD officer in charge. “He knows his job, puts an emphasis on training, takes care of his Marines and promotes mission accomplishment, all while remaining very humble.”

“It’s a great day when we can award and recognize a true American hero,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Simon Wade, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 EOD officer in charge who has worked with Sherwood in the past.

Sherwood’s father was also awarded a Bronze Star for actions during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Sherwood’s father never talked about his wartime experiences, and his family didn’t know he had earned the award until after his father’s death.

“It is a great privilege to follow in my father’s footsteps and receive the same award he did,” said Sherwood.

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