- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A U.S. Army sergeant from Maine who was fired upon in combat in Afghanistan has received the body armor plate that saved his life.

The Army presented Timothy Gilboe, 26, of Westbrook, with the plate on Friday at a ceremony at the Portland Veterans of Foreign Wars hall.

Gilboe, who was awarded the Silver Star, lost a friend in the fighting three years ago after his unit came under mortar attack. Staff Sgt. Matthew Hermanson, the squad leader, told Gilboe to stay close behind him as they and Gilboe’s assistant machine gunner emerged from cover, the Portland Press Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1jjiBh6 ).

“That’s when (Hermanson) got hit,” Gilboe said. “He reached out to me as if to say, ‘Come get me.’”

Gilboe then faced a Taliban fighter in hand-to-hand combat. He had set down his gun to pat out flames on the assistant machine gunner’s backpack, which held the machine gun ammunition. When he turned around he saw the insurgent who had just shot and killed Hermanson charging at him carrying an AK-47.

Gilboe charged at the man, grabbing the barrel of the AK-47. A bullet hit the bottom of the body armor plate covering Gilboe’s chest. He slammed the rifle into the man’s face, throwing him to the ground seconds before the assistant machine gunner shot and killed him.

“I don’t view it as an accomplishment,” he said. “I lost a good friend. We killed two young men. I don’t really see any good in that.”

But Gilboe appreciates the honor so that he can share the story of Hermanson.

“That’s why I like having the medals, so I can tell Sergeant Hermanson’s story,” Gilboe said. “His is the only one that matters.”

___

Information from: Portland Press Herald, https://www.pressherald.com


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