"Your son was killed in action today. Despite intense enemy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, your son fought like a lion. He remained in his fighting position until all his wounded comrades could be evacuated from the rooftop they were defending. It was during his courageous defense of his comrades that Aaron was hit by enemy fire.... With the exception of the Marines on Security, every man in the company attended the service. Aaron was respected and admired by every Marine in his company. His death brought tears to my eyes, tears that fell in front of my Marines. I am unashamed of that fact."
- Douglas Zembiec, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, writing to the mother of Aaron C. Austin, included in Operation Homecoming by Andrew Carroll
Doug Zembiec, Major in the USMC, was known at the "Unapologetic Warrior". We featured him here as Someone You Should Know almost three years ago (must read). In fact, he was among the few that I included when I began that index - he is very "Mattis-like" or, maybe, General Mattis is very "Zembiec-like".
Just a few months before, then Captain, Zembiec led Echo Company into Fallujah. We caught that as part of the Showdown series about Fallujah (link here). Zembiec was leading his unit into combat where most of his men (53) had been wounded, with some wounded two or three times and still in the fight. He talks about his Navy Hospital Corpsmen that kept his men alive (link here).
It is with tears and a heavy heart that I inform you that Major Doug Zembiec was killed this week. We have lost a true lion, a warrior without peer, a Marine among Marines...from his Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device:
"On two occasions, Captain Zembiec coordinated the actions of the Marines from atop a tank while rocket-propelled grenades and enemy small arms fire impacted all around him. Wherever the battle raged with intensity, Zembiec could be found inspiring Marines to aggressively repel the enemy's determined assault..."
He was already wounded badly before he jumped on that tank. And from the Comments of that long-ago post here, Marines spoke up about Doug:
I served with Capt Zembiec. I was a Scout/Sniper that was with him and Echo Company. I was awarded the Silver Star for my actions in Fallujah. I would Die for this man. I only wish people could see what this man did for his Marines. - Ethan Place
I was one of his platoon commanders at the time, and I know that he earned our respect and admiration. Our Marines couldn't imagine following a different company commander. Major Zembiec will always be an inspiration to me, no matter what I am doing. - Edward Solis
There is no one better to go to war with - Sergeant Major William S. Skiles (Echo Company First Sergeant in 2004)
The love of his Marines and the Corps far surpasses anyone else I know. I don't think there are enough words to describe him as an individual. - Captain Darryl Ayers
He's everything you want in a leader: He'll listen to you, take care of you and back you up, but when you need it, he'll put a boot your... - Sergeant Casey Olson
He's not like some of these other officers: He leads from the front, not the rear. - Lance Corporal Jacob Atkinson
Doug is the prototypical modern infantry officer. He's also not that much different than the officers who led the Spartans into combat... - LtCol Joseph Clearfield
Right now, the Zembiecs are mourning a heavy, heavy loss. Doug's wife, Pam, and 1-year old daughter, Fallyn Justice, are with family members now.
I'll post more information as it comes in. I've struggled with how much to share at this point. I'll let you know if we can help in some small way. One thing for certain, Doug Zembiec would want you to celebrate his life, his time with his family and his time on this Earth as a Marine.
“Day by day, fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it.” - Thucydides, The Funeral Speech for Pericles
Godspeed, Major Zembiec, godspeed...
Update 05-12-07: Wake, Funeral and Burial info is below...