Not a day passed, growing up in Rolla, Mo. that Dakota Herpich, didn’t dream of becoming a Marine. It was Sept. 11, 2001. A sixth-grade teacher entered his classroom and turned on the television. . . .
Not a day passed, growing up in Rolla, Mo. that Dakota Herpich, didn’t dream of becoming a Marine. It was Sept. 11, 2001. A sixth-grade teacher entered his classroom and turned on the television.
“I remember him running in and turning the TV on, when I saw the towers fall I remember being confused,” Herpich said. “I couldn’t comprehend the hatred someone must’ve felt towards us to do such a thing. But that opened my eyes to a world outside my little corner. It showed me that there are people all over the world that needed my help.”
“When I was little, there was an army base nearby, Fort Leonard Wood, and A-10s would fly over my house on occasion. I always wanted to fly them. That’s when I started reading every book I could get my hands on military related. I basically cleaned my school library out of books that had anything to do with the military. There were a couple of books that were Marine Corps history books and that was what truly spiked my interest in the Corps. It made me want to join the Marines to help people who can’t help themselves. This began Herpich’s dream in becoming a U.S. Marine. Capt. Herpich first got his wish to assist those in need last year when he deployed to the Republic of Haiti, as part of Joint Task Force Matthew in October last year with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, following Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane. Matthew caused widespread flooding and damage and the 24th MEU was sent to assist in humanitarian and disaster relief operations there. “My team and I provided aircraft security each time they touched down at the airfields. With the lack of security present from airport security teams, coupled with the state of the country, protecting our assets on the deck was vital, said Herpich.”
On the first flight out, we conducted an island survey. We flew over the entire island, getting eyes on the areas of interest and the most hard-hit areas to assess where to distribute aid. I knew this is why I joined the Corps. I was proud to be there and only wished we could’ve done more.” Capt. Herpich is currently deployed with the 24th MEU serving aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) as the Officer-In-Charge of the law enforcement detachment. As the detachment OIC, Capt. Herpich and his Marines are responsible for the MEU’s military working dogs, a forensics lab, personal security details and detainee handling.
The 24th MEU is operating in Europe and the Middle East, providing crisis response and contingency support for combatant commanders, including maritime security operations, humanitarian assistance and advance force operations.
The 24th MEU is halfway into its deployment, estimated to return in September. “I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers I get from back home, it means a lot when we’re out here, he said.”
Herpich also addressed young boys and girls who might find themselves interested in the military, “If someone wants to join the Marines, I would say take it seriously and work hard. You will have opportunities you never would dream of in a million years.” After his deployment, Capt. Herpich hopes to become a Marine Officer Instructor to mentor the next generation of officers.