LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Leaders and comrades of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew D. Hermanson gathered to honor the fallen infantry non-commissioned officer - remembered as a patriotic and determined leader - on Combat Outpost Jaghato, Afghanistan, May 7.
Hermanson was a 22-year-old infantry NCO from Appleton, Wis., assigned to 1st Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Warrior, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division TF Patriot. Posthumously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant, he died as the result of wounds suffered from small-arms fire during an enemy engagement while on a patrol to secure friendly forces and the Jaghato District center, Wardak province, April 28.
“The brotherhood of those who have fought together is one of the strongest bonds we may ever know. It transcends race, creed and even nationality,” said U.S. Army Capt. Keith Kacmar, TF Warrior’s Company A commander from Valencia, Calif. “When it comes down to it, the most important thing that we fight for is each other.”
Kacmar said Hermanson was one of the finest NCOs with whom he has ever had the pleasure of serving. Hermanson voluntarily extended his military service to stay in the Army so he could deploy and fight next to his brothers, he said.
“He stayed so that he could serve his men as their squad leader. He always took the time to train and educate his men, and he motivated them to better themselves every day,” said Kacmar. “His service is an example of what makes our Army and our nation great.”
Hermanson was everything a commander could want in an NCO - a true professional who was an expert in knowing his weapons systems and employing his squad, said Kacmar. Company A NCOs such as Hermanson and his comrades are the backbone of the company. They affect the lives and welfare of dozens of men for the better and play key roles in mission success, he said.
There was more to Hermanson than being a great NCO and soldier, said Kacmar. Family and friends meant a lot to him too.
“Matthew was also a devoted husband who loved his wife Rachel deeply and a friend to everyone who knew him,” said Kacmar. “His bright personality could lighten any mood, and he cared deeply for his soldiers. Matt made the ultimate sacrifice for his brothers in arms, and we will never forget how much we owe him.”
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Pryor, Company A NCO from Blue Grove, Texas, called Hermanson an all-around great guy. All of his Soldiers liked and respected Hermanson, who really enjoyed his profession, he said.
“His squad’s well-being was one of the most important things to him,” said Pryor. “You could tell that he enjoyed being around them as much as they enjoyed having him as a leader.”
When Hermanson talked about leaving the Army, Pryor said he tried everything he could to convince him to stay, telling Hermanson he was much too good of a leader to get out. Pryor said he had the pleasure of working with Hermanson - one of the hardest workers he has ever known - while deployed to Iraq in 2008.
“Some of my favorite memories of Sgt. Hermanson were the times that he would come into my room in the middle of the night and wake me up while in Iraq,” said Pryor. “I would sit up on my bed and ask what is wrong. He would just look at me and say, ‘I just wanted you to know I am going to Tower One to go on guard.’
“I would ask if that is all he woke me up for,” continued Pryor. “He would look at me, give me that Sgt. Hermanson smile, say, ‘Yep’ and walk out.”
Pryor relayed a story about Hermanson taping a Fisher Price toy flashlight to a squad leader’s M4 rifle just before a mission. Pryor recalled how everyone in the squad thought it was funny; that is except for squad leader, of course.
“I remember there was so much tape that it took him 20 minutes just to get the tape off; that is after going on the mission with it like that,” said Pryor.
Pryor said Hermanson was a huge Green Bay Packers fans, just as he is. The Packers’ Super Bowl victory this year was very exciting for them, and they talked about the game for weeks before and weeks after the event, he said.
Knowing Hermanson as a leader, a soldier and, most importantly, as a friend, Pryor said working with Hermanson was one of the greatest honors he has ever had. Hermanson was the kind of man who would do anything for anyone, he said.
“You will always be our brother-in-arms and one of the greatest soldiers and leaders we have ever had the honor to work with,” said Pryor. “I will see you again someday; and when I do, I promise to show up wearing a ‘Cheese Hat’ just for you.”
Hermanson’s awards and decorations include the following: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghan Campaign Medal, with one campaign star; Global War on Terror Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Overseas Service Ribbon; Combat Infantryman Badge.