Corpsman who shielded wounded Marine to receive Silver Star


Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Zackery Penner will be awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in Afghanistan.

His squad had come under heavy fire – and was likely to face it again.

On June 22, 2012, Hospitalman Zackery Penner had risked life and limb to rush to care for a Marine shot during an patrol in Afghanistan with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. The Marine died due to the severity of his wound, a toll that hung heavy on the company.

On June 23, the squad was helping Afghan soldiers clear a compound when they came under sniper fire. Two men were hit: a Marine and an Afghan soldier. Insurgent machine guns roared.

What Penner did next would later earn distinction with the nation’s third highest award for valor.

The Silver Star citation, obtained by Navy Times, reports: “Hospitalman Penner unhesitatingly ran more than 100 meters across fire-swept terrain to reach the casualties. He established a casualty collection point behind a wall then moved in and out of the kill zone four times in order to retrieve the casualties and get them to cover. When the squad began receiving fire from the rear, Penner courageously shielded the casualties from the enemy fire with his own body until the evacuation aircraft arrived and then bravely exposed himself to enemy fire as he moved the casualties to the aircraft.”

Penner, now an HM3, is scheduled to receive the Silver Star at a March 19 ceremony in Pensacola, Fla.

Look for an exclusive interview with Penner in our upcoming issue of Navy Times, out on newsstands Monday.


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  1. You have made all of us Corpsman proud! I’m sure your Marines will remember you for the rest of their lives.
    good Job, Doc! Good job.

  2. Valerie Gorman on

    As the wife of a former corpsman turned Marine, I would like to give honor to this outstandingly brave man.

  3. EM1(SS) (RET) Bruce on

    Total stud!! My dad was (always will be) a Marine…I always love hearing love to hear how people take care of his brothers.

  4. I grew up with Zack’s father, was able to watch this boy grow and mature as well and I know the values that were instilled in him. It began in his heart & mind, nurtured with the dedication of service and evident in his performance of duty. This boy became a man and earned the highest honor of giving & sacrifice of oneself to save and protect those of his fellow Man. Whatever the merit bestowed upon him for saving their lives, he has Earned It With Distinction….Zack – Stand Tall, Stand Proud, and know you have everyone’s Admiration – “Honor, Courage, Commitment” and “Semper Fi.”

  5. Outstanding!! I was an Infantry squad leader and Navy corpsman have the upmost respect! They rush into chaos on top of chaos! Outstanding doc unfortunately if you are the officer it would have been a Navy cross.. my opinion. common valor was a common virtue Chester Nimitz

  6. As a FMF Corpsman in VN in 1968, I was presented with the Silver Star and reading what this man did adds such an inspiration and shows the true mettle of the FMF Corpsman and what they will do for their Marine Brothers.

    Semper Fi

  7. Zach grew up two doors away from us! We knew he was special then and we certainly are know it now! He is pretty amazing. Proud to know him!

    Steve and Gayle Hage

  8. As a former Marine,I’ve had the privilage to know many corpsman. Although I never saw combat,I know of sacrafices,spirit & courage these men have. I just want to say also,the Marines that have a corpsman(or two) that are with thier unit are highly respected thought of as a brother. Thank God for corpsman. God Bless & Semper Fi.

  9. Zack,
    What a story!! What a hero!! Allene and I are very proud of you. We’ve seen you grow up into a hero. This is something to cherish the rest of your life.
    Charlie and Allene

  10. Tress Putnam on

    Zack, I’ll be working at Dewey School for your mom while your family makes the trip to see you receive your Silver Star. They are so very proud of you. Who would have ever known years ago when you were in my first grade class that your would be where you are now having accomplished all that you have. Thank you for your great service to our country. I’m very proud of you!

  11. MGySgt Little on

    When we are running to our office buildings to avoid getting wet or stuck in traffic going home at 1645 or we have to stand in formation for a 30 minute award ceremony, it’s stories and servicemembers like this that remind us that we have nothing to complain about!! OUTSTANDING JOB SHIPMATE!!!

  12. RP1(FMF) Bejarano on

    Brother (Doc) God Bless you many more times and years! Thank you for your service and representing the FMF Sailors!

  13. Richard Congo on

    Your actions are in keeping with the proud traditions of FMF Hospital Corpsman who deploy with Marines worldwide in wartime situations. Stand tall, stand proud, wear this Silver Star with great pride, for you have earned it. You are an American Hero! Thank you for your service!

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