CAMP GEIGER, N.C. --
Throughout history, Marines have always been known for their outstanding valor. Although gone are the heroes of old, it does not mean that today’s Marines are not made of the same mettle.
One such Marine is Staff Sgt. Dennis Derr II, a combat instructor with the Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – East, who was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device, in front of more than 100 Marines currently going through the Infantry Training Battalion, his parents wife and friends during a ceremony aboard Camp Geiger, April 1.
While serving as the jump platoon commander with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division (Forward), in Afghanistan from February 2010 until August of the same year while in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Derr was nominated for the heroic actions.
While deployed, Derr travelled more than 5,000 miles in support and conducted more than 200 combat patrols. It was during one such patrol that Derr’s actions helped save lives.
On February 14, 2010, less than a month of being in country, Derr’s patrol came under heavy enemy machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenade attacks which pinned down most of his patrol.
According to his citation, Derr, with complete disregard for his safety, he maneuvered through the fire and identified the enemy machine gun positions, and helped bring the turret gunners onto the target while he engaged the enemy with effective fire, which gave the patrol time to move to safety.
During the ceremony, Derr was noted for his professionalism, decisive thinking, and situational awareness.
“I’m honored to have (received) this award,” said Derr. “This award is not for me, its for all my Marines in my platoon. If they didn’t do what they were trained to do we wouldn’t have been able to come together.”
Also attending the ceremony was one of Derr’s Marines from the unit he had deployed with.
“He was always leading from the front,” said Cpl. Paul Mauser, a combat instructor with Charlie Company, ITB, SOI-E. “It’s well deserved and I’m glad I was able to be here to see it.”