Brother’s spirit saved me, Marine says
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” On the day Jeremiah Sherman was injured by a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq, his brother, Zachariah, was on his mind.
The date ” Friday, July 6, 2007 ” was the four-year anniversary of 18-year-old Zachariah’s death in a car accident on Highway 133 near Redstone.
If Jeremiah, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marines, could do one thing for his parents, Roger and Tammy Sherman, it would be to stay safe.
“He started out the day not feeling good about going out because it was the anniversary of Zach’s passing,” Roger said, sitting at a wood table covered with Jeremiah’s photos at his Redstone home. “He tried not to go out but he had to.”
Jeremiah suffered minor injuries ” a concussion, shrapnel wounds, a possible broken hand ” from the explosion. An improvised explosive device he was standing on was detonated by a wire 3,000 feet long, Roger said.
“He landed in the crater made from the blast,” Roger said. “He kind of felt the impact, and was stumbling around the crater, stumbled around his men, and was able to retake command of his unit. He basically escaped with his life and minor injuries.”
When the bomb exploded, Jeremiah believes his brother’s spirit was with him, keeping him safe, Roger said.
“He told me, ‘Truthfully, poppa, Zach was there. Zach had a hand in it. I know Zach was with me,'” Roger said. “I can just imagine the blast force going on around him, and him falling into the crater. His brother was watching over him.”
The Sherman brothers grew up in Redstone and graduated from Roaring Fork High School. Jeremiah ” now serving his second tour of duty in Iraq ” joined the Marines in 1999. He had just returned to the states after his first tour when his brother was killed in a single-vehicle accident on a Sunday while heading to church in Carbondale.
“(The accident) was two weeks after he got back to the states,” Roger said. “He was unable to get together with Zach.”
After Friday’s near-death experience, Jeremiah was able to call both his father and his wife, Anne, who lives in San Diego with the couple’s two boys, Peyton, 5, and Laine, 3. He spoke with his dad for nearly two hours about the experience.
“I think he really felt like getting some things off his chest to his father,” Roger said. “We talked for quite a long time. He ran up one (satellite phone) battery on me and another on his wife.”
Tammy ” who is in California visiting her grandsons and daughter-in-law ” said her son downplayed the situation when they spoke.
“He tends to try and protect my feelings when he talks to me,” she said, by cell phone. “He’s always protecting my feelings, no matter how hard it is.”
She did the same when she heard the news of the roadside bomb.
“I guess I cried inside,” she said. “I tried to stay strong on the outside for my daughter-in-law. She’s doing as well as she can.”
Despite his injuries, Zachariah remains upbeat and focused, Tammy said.
“He wants to be back with his squad ” that’s his main priority,” she said. “He’s definitely a hero to us, but I think he already knows it. We tell him all the time.”
Although fearful for his safety, Jeremiah’s wife understands his commitment to his job as a Marine, she said.
The couple renewed their vows after five years of marriage in January.
“I know he’s there doing his job, to bring other Marines home. He’s strong, and he’s good at his job,” Anne said. “I stay strong so he knows we’re doing OK. He loves me, and he knows I’m strong and I can do it. He promises he’s going to come home to me.”
Roger and Tammy back their son’s role in Iraq, despite any reservations the couple has about the war.
“I do not feel comfortable about where he is. There are no coalition forces there,” Roger said. “It’s sad ” the politicians are worried about politics instead of lives.”
Roger said Jeremiah ” who will be 27 in December ” is dedicated to his command and remains focused on the work at hand. The Shermans do not know when Jeremiah can come home.
It could be 30 days. Maybe 60. All Roger says he knows is his son will return with a Purple Heart.
“He told me, ‘I do not want to abandon my unit,'” Roger said. “When I talked to him Saturday, he hesitated, then said, ‘I think we’re doing some good. We found a lot of explosives ” we found about 100 IEDs. This is my job and I’m going to do it.’
“He’s a Marine, and he will sacrifice himself for another Marine.”