KOUTS | Members of the Indiana Patriot Guard and the Kouts fire and police departments gathered with family and friends on Saturday night to welcome home Scott Herma from Afghanistan.
Herma a U.S. Marine who is a 2010 graduate of Kouts High School, was shot two weeks ago by Taliban, said Herma’s sister Amber McConnachie, and he is lucky to be alive.
“It was a surprise ambush. He was shot on his left side by Taliban insurgents and his best friend was patching him up while bullets were flying overhead. Their squad leader grabbed him and carried him out,” said McConnachie.
The 21-year-old Herma then spent a week in a German hospital until stable, then was transferred to a hospital in San Diego for one week. He underwent numerous surgeries before returning to spend 20 days on convalescent leave at his grandmother’s home before returning to California for follow-up treatment.
“He has a long road to recovery, but considering all that has happened, he’s doing really well,” she said.
Herma was welcomed by a flank of more than 50 guard members each holding large American flags in the Heartland Church parking lot about 9 p.m. on Saturday night, after which, Indiana Patriot Guard ride captain Ringo Huskisson of Hammond presented Herma with a pin.
“You’ve just come home from a big family, the military, and now you can walk into another family, those of us here. You may not know any of us, but there are no strangers here,” said Huskisson to Herma.
Herma’s mother, Lori Dittrich of Crown Point, said that the warm welcome meant a lot to her family.
“This was the most amazing thing. Even at the airport he was welcomed home by people,” she said.
Kouts Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Press, who is also second cousin to Herma, said that Kouts is a small town and so Herma’s dedication to his country and people is felt strongly by the community.
“We have a lot of pride for him. He’s a hometown hero,” said Press.
Herma’s brother, Cory, who had previously served in Afghanistan in the Army, was also joined by cousins Ashley Mains, who had also served in Afghanistan, Stephany Meredith, who had served in the National Guard, and her husband Jesse Meredith, who had served in Iraq, as well as other family.
Herma said few words as he hugged friends and strangers alike after arriving home. He was escorted from the church to his grandmother’s house by the riders and emergency vehicles in procession, and he said it was good to be close to family at home, although he had his mind on family still far away.
“This is nice, I appreciate it. But I’d rather be with my guys back in Afghanistan,” Herma said.