A Marine scout sniper was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" for putting himself in the line of fire in order to save his comrades from an ambush during a 2011 deployment to Afghanistan."V" — the distinguishing device for valor

Staff Sgt. Nathan Hervey received the prestigious valor award last week Feb. 5 at a ceremony at the Stone Bay rifle range aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for displaying extraordinary heroism during a combat operation in Helmand provincein Afghanistan.

While serving as a scout sniper section leader with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, in 2011, Hervey took on and defeated a platoon-sized enemy force to save nearby Marines from annihilation.

During the battle, he exhibited "zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional dedication to duty," according to his citation.

Hervey, now an instructor with the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion advanced infantry training battalion at the Marines’ School of Infantry — East at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, has a more humble perspective.

"The things written in the citation reflect one moment out of our seven months," he said in a Marine Corps press release. "During that deployment, when Marines needed help, they unhesitatingly went forward just like any of us here wearing this uniform would have done, regardless of life, or limb or risk."

Staff Sgt. Nathan Hervey, an instructor with the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at the School of Infantry-East, listens to his award citation being read at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 5. Hervey was recognized for extraordinary heroism for his actions on May 21, 2011, while deployed to Afghanistan as a scout sniper section leader with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

Photo Credit: Cpl. Fatmeh Saad/Marine Corps

On May 21, 2011, Hervey, a sergeant at the time, and his sniper section were conducting overwatch while their fellow Marines attempted to stop enemy forces moving in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

When he spotted insurgents forces attempting to set up an ambush on a nearby squad of Marines, Hervey ordered his men to engage the enemy with precision and machine gun fire.

A firefight ensued and the enemy brought up heavy machine guns, recoilless rifles and rocket-propelled grenades as reinforcements, putting the nearby Marines in grave danger.

"Seeing the adjacent Marines' situation deteriorating, Sergeant Hervey began moving his snipers north, personally sweeping for explosive devices, and attempting to establish an attack by fire position as Marine reinforcements arrived" his citation reads.

Hervey and his men kept moving and shooting, even as they came up on an explosive device and the insurgents began lobbing automatic grenade launcher rounds at them.

The enemy brought up more reinforcements and continued their barrage on both Hervey’s section and the nearby Marines, who had been come cut off.

"With the insurgents now in platoon strength, the sniper section began prosecuting multiple targets despite intense enemy fire in order to protect an isolated and exposed adjacent unit that had struck an improvised explosive device," according to Hervey’s citation states.

Undeterred by the enemy’s firepower, Hervey got on the radio with his company headquarters and began directing air- and indirect-fire strikes on the enemy. The subsequent hail of ordnance obliterated the insurgents’ heavy weaponry, forcing them to turn tail and flee.

"This is the kind of leadership we want, setting the example when the chips are down and Marines need it most," said 2nd Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, 2nd Marine Division's commanding general, said of Hervey’s conduct, according to a Marine Corps release.

Matthew L. Schehl covers training and education, recruiting, West Coast Marines, MARSOC, and operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Marine Corps Times. He can be reached at mschehl@marinecorpstimes.com.

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