Editor’s note: This article was originally published by SOFREP.com on April 24, 2017. This updated version of the article is being published due to the recent news that now-Colonel Homiak has been selected as the Commander of the Marine Raider Support Group based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. All accounts in this article are based on the statements of men who were on the ground during these incidents or are subject matter experts in their field.

The men of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Marine Recon Battalion first escaped death in the form of a U-shaped ambush by Taliban forces late in the afternoon on June 6, 2011. Then, they escaped death again, this time from a 500-pound GBU-54 laser-guided bomb dropped 34 meters from their position about an hour after they requested supporting fire. The ordnance was well within the danger-close range of 130 meters, and even inside the distance (70 meters), where the probability of incapacitation is 10%. This was followed by two 675-pound HIMAR missiles fired in an open sheaf about 70 meters from their position—also danger-close for that ordnance. The only reason the platoon did not have significant, immediate casualties from the explosions was the Marines and sailors had found cover in micro-terrain, a small canal not seen on the maps. The overpressure of the blast was nonetheless debilitating; some of the men were rendered unconscious. One described the blast in detail: “I was unconscious for a moment. All the air was sucked out of my lungs. I thought I was going to die. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. Then debris fell on us for a solid minute.”

The Bronze medal citation for SSgt Jeremy Froio, the joint terminal attack controller, stated, “It is impossible to overstate the earth-shattering effect this ordnance had on the platoon at such close range.” Virtually every member of 1st Platoon demonstrated concussion symptoms following the bombing. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Travis Homiak, had ordered the use of the heaviest munitions on station despite the recommendation from the battalion operations officer, Maj. Fred Galvin, who had recommended the use of smaller munitions, which were available and would be highly likely to neutralize the enemy while posing significantly less danger to the Marines and sailors of 1st Platoon.

The unit returned to base camp early on the morning of June 7th, under cover of darkness. Upon return, members were assigned to guard duty and other routine base camp activities. Not only did the battalion command make the decision to use the GBU-54 and HIMARS instead of more appropriately sized munitions, but requests by the platoon SARC (special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman) to follow the theater-wide concussion protocol prescribed by the Department of Defense in Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 09-033 issued on June 21, 2010, fell on deaf ears higher in the command.