By Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs Office & Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division Public Affairs OfficeSeptember 28, 2011
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. --Two technicians with the Guns Division of Picatinny's detachment of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, Md., recently provided last minute support to the latest Medal of Honor presentation ceremony by fulfilling a rather unusual request.
Ron Hoehn and Rich Moore, are accustomed to meeting immediate support requests to repair gun systems however, on the evening of Sept. 15, they received a special request from the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. They needed immediate support to fix one of their ceremonial Mk11 cannons.
Repairing a ceremonial cannon normally does not rise to the top of a priority list; however this day carried an air of urgency and importance. The following day the Marines would honor Sgt. Dakota Meyer for being the recipient of the United States' most prestigious tribute, the Medal of Honor.
On September 8, 2009, near the village of Ganjgal, Afghanistan, Meyer repeatedly charged through heavy enemy fire in an attempt to save three of his fellow Marines and a Navy Corpsman who were part of Meyer's unit. While all four men had died in that action, Meyer helped recover their bodies while also assisting several wounded Afghan Soldiers to safely evacuate.
When Hoehn and Moore heard about the request from the Marine Corps they immediately went to work. "There was no question we were going to help," Hoehn said. "We wanted to go right away."
That evening the two men gathered enough materials to effectively repair about 95 percent of an Mk11 breech assembly. Based upon the information they and their supervisor had gathered from Marines at the Barracks, they were reasonably sure the firing pin had malfunctioned. Yet, past experience taught them to be overly prepared.
Both men drove from Picatinny, to Washington D.C., the next morning. Once Hoehn and Moore got to the Marine Barracks, they were able to repair what proved to be a faulty firing pin in about half an hour.
The importance of the ceremony was not lost on either man. "It was exciting and a real honor to help," Hoehn said. "What Sgt. Meyer did was amazing."
Moore, a 24-year career Navy veteran, worked extensively with Marines on amphibious ships. He said it was nice to support something this high profile, yet saw it in a different perspective.
"Spending upwards of eight hours of my time to do this was insignificant to what this young man did for his country. He deserved a perfect ceremony."
Hoehn and Moore insured the gun worked properly with a test fire, inspected two other gun mounts the Marines have and did some corrosion control work as a courtesy. They also stayed for the afternoon drill, which Hoehn said was an awesome experience. "It literally raised the hair on my arms," he said.
Moore said making the trip was not unusual, "This is typical of what we do all the time. It's one of the reasons we are here; to provide rapid support to the fleet when needed."
The ceremony was the first Medal of Honor ceremony at the barracks since the Viet Nam era. Meyer is the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since that time. President Barack Obama presented Meyer with the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15 at a ceremony held in the White House.