Grant Frederick Timmerman was born in Americus, Kansas on February 19, 1919. In the summer of 1937, he moved from his native Kansas to California, where he found employment as a welder.
Welding didn’t hold his fancy though, and on October 28, 1937 Timmerman enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After recruit training and a brief stint serving on the west coast, he was assigned for duty in China, where he would spend nearly three years from May 1938 until April 1941. After his discharge from his four-year enlistment on October 27, 1941, he returned to work as a welder.
Five weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States was plunged into World War II.
Timmerman returned to the Marines with his reenlistment in February of 1942 and was reinstated to his previous rank of Private First Class. He was assigned to the 2nd Tank Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division, and was promoted through the ranks to Sergeant.
With the 2nd Tank Battalion, Timmerman fought on Tarawa in 1943. The battalion landed on D-Day for the Battle of Saipan, June 15, 1944. About one month later, the M4 Sherman tank that Timmerman commanded was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. As he warned the infantry he was supporting to take cover before his crew fired the tank’s main gun to knock out Japanese strong points, an enemy soldier tried to throw a grenade through one of the tank’s hatches.
Had the grenade fallen through the hatch, the crew would likely have been killed and the tank destroyed. Timmerman did the only thing he could do, and by his selfless act of heroism, became one of our Nation’s most honored.
*TIMMERMAN, GRANT FREDERICK
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Other Navy award: Bronze Star Medal
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as tank commander serving with the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Saipan, Marianas Islands, on 8 July 1944. Advancing with his tank a few yards ahead of the infantry in support of a vigorous attack on hostile positions, Sgt. Timmerman maintained steady fire from his antiaircraft sky mount machinegun until progress was impeded by a series of enemy trenches and pillboxes. Observing a target of opportunity, he immediately ordered the tank stopped and, mindful of the danger from the muzzle blast as he prepared to open fire with the 75mm., fearlessly stood up in the exposed turret and ordered the infantry to hit the deck. Quick to act as a grenade, hurled by the Japanese, was about to drop into the open turret hatch, Sgt. Timmerman unhesitatingly blocked the opening with his body holding the grenade against his chest and taking the brunt of the explosion. His exception valor and loyalty in saving his men at the cost of his own life reflect the highest credit upon Sgt. Timmerman and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
Sergeant Timmerman was initially buried in the 2nd Marine Division cemetery on Saipan. His remains were later repatriated and reburied in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.
In September 1952, sponsored by his mother, the United States Navy commissioned the USS Timmerman (DD-828). The ship, a modified Gearing-class destroyer with experimental propulsion systems, served for just under four years before being decommissioned and later scrapped.