It was a bad day. It was supposed to have been a routine village stability operation in the Upper Gereshk Valley of Afghanistan. The team leader, Lt. Derek Herrera, and the assistant team leader, Gunnery Sgt. Brian Jacklin of the 1st Marine Special Operations Bn., U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, had done these before. But this one suddenly went bad.
On June 14, 2012, they were in a village compound when they suddenly found themselves under extremely intense and focused enemy gunfire. Almost immediately, Herrera went down and knew that he was paralyzed by the bullet. Gunny Jacklin took charge immediately and began to organize and direct a counterattack in true Marine Corps fashion.
The team’s primary communication link was also taken out in the first moments of the ambush. Jacklin set up an alternative system with a nearby supporting unit and began calling in direct and indirect fire and airstrikes. At the same time, he coordinated the recovery and evacuation of the wounded. You will hear what they had to do to get to Herrera in this video.
When they had gotten the wounded together, they had to make their way across open terrain to get to the LZ for the evacuation aircraft. The enemy fire remained extreme and furious as they made their way there. The first evacuation aircraft had to be waived off because of the intensity of the enemy fire. Jacklin began to pour a barrage of M203 grenades on the focus of the enemy fire. He also directed his team’s fire at the same time until they quieted the enemy fire long enough for the evacuation aircraft to pick up the wounded.
Jacklin’s team was replaced by another Marine Special Ops team a little later in the day, but Jacklin chose to remain behind, and he would stay in the fight for another 48 hours. During that time, he provided vital intelligence to the new team. He also continued to give tactical assistance and to keep up his own accurate personal weapons fire on the determined enemy, inspiring all those around him.
This video is of the ceremony at Camp Pendelton, CA, where Gunnery Sgt. Brian Jacklin was awarded the nation’s second-highest award for bravery on the field of battle, the Navy Cross. You will see that he, like all true heroes, is a very humble man. He thanks the other Marines of his team for their courage that day and their mutual support. When asked what made him able to do what he did that day, his response was very simple and very much that of a Marine: “Were there any other options? We’re Marines. That’s what we do.” The five other Marines in his team were awarded Bronze Stars for their valor that day as well.
We thank Gunnery Sgt. Brian Jacklin for his courage under fire, for his skill, and for his commitment to his fellow Marines in those challenging first moments of that ambush on June 14, 2012, in Afghanistan, and for his continuing actions over the next 48 hours against a numerous, fierce, and determined enemy. You show us what the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis,” looks like in action. OoRah, Gunny!