Damon Werth was a Corporal in the USMC and later a mercenary, working for First Defense Incorporated, the largest private security firm in the United States.
Damon Werth was born in Michigan. His father was a retired officer of the British Special Air Service ("SAS") and Werth was determined to become a soldier when he grew up.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps but suffered from a rare anemia that would have ended his career. To prevent this, he took steroids, along with masking agents that concealed the use of these steroids. These drugs not only allowed him to overcome his medical disability, but also to become a brilliant Marine; he excelled in all fields - speed, strength, reflexes, mental acuity - and was due to be promoted to Sergeant at the time of his encounter with NCIS. His only "vacation" from the Corps was spent in England on a joint training exercise with the SAS, his father's old unit.
During his tour of duty in Iraq, Werth's squad was ambushed and captured. While being tortured, Werth freed himself, killed his captors and carried the three men of his unit back to safety. He was cited by a Senator for a Silver Star, but the steroids were starting to damage his mind and he was invalided back to the U.S., believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Suffering psychotic episodes, he was confined to the mental health unit of Bethesda Naval Hospital.
A few days after returning from Iraq, Werth kidnapped his doctor, Dr. Adrian De La Casa and escaped from Bethesda. Believing that he was still in Iraq, he tried to track down his rescued squad-mates.
NCIS Special Agents Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Anthony DiNozzo and Timothy McGee, as well as NCIS/Mossad Liaison Officer Ziva David, tracked down one of these squad-mates to another Navy hospital, where Werth confronted them at gunpoint.
Gibbs managed to convince Werth to lower his weapon, but when McGee tried to handcuff him, Werth went berserk. It took the entire team to subdue him, and not before he had inflicted considerable punishment on all of them - breaking DiNozzo's nose, dislocating McGee's right shoulder and giving Ziva who was not used to taking any kind of hit before winning a fight a bruise that covered half her face.
During his interrogation by Gibbs, Werth revealed that he had been injected with something but did not remember what. He asked Gibbs to help him and Gibbs agreed. Back in Bethesda, the one who gave him the steroids tried to kill Werth to cover his tracks and blame it on Dr. De La Casa. The attempt failed and he was caught, but he also exposed Werth's continued efforts to return to active duty in the Marine Corps. When, fearing political fallout, the Senator refused to endorse the recommendation to give Corporal Werth a Silver Star for his heroism in Iraq, Gibbs quietly honored his actions and sacrifice by giving Werth his own Silver Star. (DiNozzo has accepted and kept in his own desk numerous medals and honors awarded to Gibbs over the years. Gibbs himself appears to have an aversion to this kind of attention, and until this incident it was unclear if he was aware of Tony's actions on his behalf.)
By Season 7, Werth had been dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps and was now working for Colonel Bell's First Defense Incorporated. Bell was hired to "rescue" the daughter and granddaughter of an Iraqi tribe leader/activist. They also happened to be the daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Gibbs old mentor Mike Franks, who was hiding them from family members outraged at the daughter's romance with Franks's late son. Bell assigned Damon Werth to head the 'rescue'/kidnapping, who invaded Gibbs's home with a team of Bell's men and was stunned to find his quarry guarded being by Ziva and DiNozzo. Quickly comprehending the reality of the situation, Werth turned against his co-workers and took them all out. He later led Gibbs to Colonel Bell where he resigned from the outfit.
Damon's old friend, Nick Heatherton, one of the three men he had carried out of the desert, was driving a truck for a man named Aaron Szwed. However, during a meeting, Heatherton was killed and Werth was knocked out. He awoke in a dumpster and found his friend's body. Werth visited Szwed and his head of security, Gerald Lucas, and took the job, promising that he would bring a partner along for the job.
He then visited Gibbs and asked for his help. Despite being cold towards him, Gibbs agreed to help and, assisted by Tobias Fornell of the FBI, he sent Ziva in as Werth's partner. Though they were doubtful at first, both Gibbs and Fornell were impressed by Werth's undercover skills. Known only to Gibbs and Ziva, Werth blamed himself for Heatherton's death until Ziva managed to convince him that he could move on and stop blaming himself.
Finally, it was revealed that the truck Werth was driving for Szwed was to transport the cars that he was planning to hijack. Gibbs and Fornell arrested Szwed and Lucas who confirmed that they were planning the hijacking but denied killing Heatherton. They believed them, and looked for another motive, finding it in a car collector named David Devoisier. He had engaged in a cross-country race with Szwed, each of them wagering their best car; Devoisier had won, and Szwed's hijacking had been an attempt to steal back his car. But Devoisier caused a hit-and-run accident on the way, an eighteen-year-old girl crossing the street. Heatherton took the girl to the hospital, and stayed with her until she died. Devoisier had no intention of letting his prized car be destroyed, so he killed Heatherton, the only witness.
After Devoisier was arrested, Werth talks with Ziva about what to tell Heatherton's widow and daughter. Ziva advises him to say that he was killed for being a good samaritan. Tony, meanwhile, volunteers to contact some friends of his in Ohio if Werth is looking for work, as well as to give him a ride. Werth politely declines the latter offer, leaving on good terms with the team in general.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs
While suffering from psychotic episodes, Werth believed Gibbs was an Iraqi torturer although he developed great respect for Gibbs and it was to Gibbs that he turned for help. Even after Gibbs learned that Werth had injected himself with steroids in order to serve in The Corps, and despite Werth's drug-induced attacks on him and his team, Gibbs saw Werth as a damaged but worthy hero who deserved the thanks and recognition of his country and his government. He then left his own Silver Star by Werth's hospital bedside.
When they arrested Colonel Bell, Gibbs made a joke about Werth's growing hair and Werth laughed, showing that a sort of camaraderie had settled between them.
However, in the episode "Jack-Knife", when Werth broke into Gibbs's house to ask him for help, Gibbs pointed a gun at him and said he was not a friend. Gibbs continued to treat Werth with distrust, even animosity, presumably based on Werth's past illegal steroid abuse which resulted in injuries to DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva during "Corporal Punishment". It's also possible that Gibbs may feel Werth dishonored the Marine Corps and that Gibbs regards anyone associated with Colonel Bell with suspicion and distaste.
Werth and Ziva feel a mutual attraction. In their first meeting, the lethally trained Mossad agent was stunned to encounter a fighter with almost super-human strength and skill. Although ultimately the winner of the encounter, Ziva came away decidedly battered.
To the surprise and disgust of her team members, especially DiNozzo, instead of feeling resentful or threatened by this unprecedented and painful encounter, Ziva revealed a delighted admiration for Damon's strength. When Werth tried to escape Bethseda a second time, it was Ziva who calmed him, not with her fists, but by looking into his eyes. She then comforted him by holding him close to her and was the only one present when Gibbs made Werth admit that he had injected himself.
In Season 7, Werth recognized Ziva when he attacked her and she recognized him. They called each other by their first names, suggesting they had kept in contact. Werth unhesitatingly accepted Ziva's explanation of the truth of his mission, and helped her ensure the safety of both mother and child. He also gave Ziva a look that suggested that he still has strong feelings for her.
- Paul Telfer who plays Werth is originally from Scotland, the same country as David McCallum (Donald Mallard).