By lex, on May 17th, 2007
“They don’t have to come to your funeral.”
A salute to a fallen hero from the men who knew him best. And here is how they knew him:
It was 2004, in the Jolan district of Fallujah, and (Marine Major Douglass) Zembiec was a captain. They were on a rooftop, taking fire from AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They tried to radio an Abrams tank below to open fire in the direction of the enemy. No good.
Zembiec raced down the stairs and out to the street and climbed onto the tank. Gunnery Sgt. Pedro Marrufo, 29, who watched from the rooftop, remembers Zembiec getting a Marine inside the tank to open the hatch. Insurgents shot at Zembiec as he instructed the men in the tank where to fire.
Cpl. Chad Borgmann, 28, who went to Zembiec’s funeral from Camp Pendleton, Calif., said yesterday that boarding tanks during firefights and similar actions is typically the work of enlisted men. If a lance corporal falls, there are 40 to take his place. But there are fewer captains, Borgmann said, and fewer still who always seemed to be out in front.
Another good man down, but a thousand mourners came to pay his memory tribute at the chapel in Annapolis, and forty of his Marines came on their own to lay him down to rest in Arlington.
There never was a man born of a woman that didn’t die – some of them even lived along the way. Maj. Zembiec was remembered by men who have themselves faced the ultimate test of character as a fierce warrior and a respected leader – any man might considered himself lucky to be counted in that company.
And in his own words: “Never forget those that were killed, and never let rest those that killed them.”