RE: The Fallen Lion
[Blackfive note: Click on the above link if you are not familiar with the Lion of Fallujah...]
Via Seamus, Sgt Maj Bill Skiles writes this message about his former partner and commander, Doug Zembiec. It'll give you a glimpse of the man being laid to rest today:
I'm Sgt Maj Bill Skiles and I was Doug's 1st Sgt in Echo Co. in 2004 in Fallujah. I would like to tell you the Doug Zembiec that you won't read about in papers. I shared a hooch with this man for the 7 months and we would talk about everything from his marines to what it will be like to be married. Doug is known for his tremendous warrior spirit and his physical strength. He was a physical specimen but he had a heart of gold. The qualities that I still live with thanks to him are humility and sincerity, Doug would be the first to hug a PFC and tell him it's OK, not put him down for being weak. He would be the first person to stand up for you if he felt you were being treated unfairly. When he told someone he will do something, he did it and made sure you know the results and if you didn't he wouldn't sleep until you understood what was happening. Doug was so confident is his own abilities, he had every right to be the most arrogant man alive if he wanted and could back it up. But he knew who he was and would always tell me that any leader that had to be a righteous prick towards his own marines was probably thin skinned and was insecure on who they were. He would call some of these marines " Junior Varsity" and that they were full of jackassery !! His words……..Doug and I had made a deal on the day our first wounded went down in late March 04. The deal was that I take care and account for all wounded and he would keep the rest focused for the fight. This agreement was made because he could not handle seeing his marines bleeding and hurting…..He and I would weep behind closed doors during some of the trying times with mass casualties. Doug's emotions were always worn on his sleeve and I really admired that. His troops admired that…He showed us all that he was human, he cared deeply about us and felt what we felt. I cannot name another commander that ALL of his troops would give THEIR lives for if needed. He wasn't fake, he wasn't the most politically correct officer but in the troops eyes that walked the streets with him and fought and sacrificed with him understood. That bond is hard to teach any ego….I wish all commanders could learn just a little of the humility and sincerity this warrior displayed daily to every marine regardless of rank. Doug's marines loved to laugh with him, cry with him and mostly fight and kill the enemy with him…..and every marine knew that when Doug shows up to a fight, it makes them feel a little better. Doug allowed the chaplain to perform services during firefights, comforting our grieving warriors after loss and listened to our corpsman on how to take better care of the fallen…..From his firm handshake to a grieving hug together, I will miss him until I join him. I will even miss the hairiest man on earth, from the eyebrows on down..Poor guy had no hair above his eyebrows but he was a human woolly pulley every where else. He would try to shave his back before patrols and always miss various spots and yes, I would help finish the job…What are buddies for ?? Doug Zembiec would never talk about himself, talk about what's he done, talk about any of his accomplishments because he told me that no one really cares about what you have done…as you command, the marines want to know what you can do now and the future….Well said…The day Doug received his Bronze Star with "V", he wept, I wept and I hugged this warrior and no words were spoken……I know why we wept…We would talk over and over again with valor is sacrifice and he thought this valor medal will never match the sacrifice that his marines went though. Humility again shows itself…..About his new family, Doug LOVED Pam and being a dad made him even more humble…Her birth was the proudest day ever for him…...Until her birth he told me the proudest moment in his life was leading the marines of Echo Co in battle. I could talk for days about how much this man meant to me and to his marines but I know throughout my life I will know about a man that was the definition of what a marine should be, what a committed husband and father should be and what this country looks for in a true hero in every stretch of the word. I will spend a couple hours with him tomorrow night when it's my turn to watch over his body and we will finish what we've talked about for those 7 months and both find peace.
I love you Doug
Sgt Maj Bill Skiles
SERGEANT MAJOR WILLIAM SKILES, USMC
MAG-39, CAMP PENDLETON, CA
" NO SKILL, NO KILL"
And from the Comments in the Fallen Lion post (linked at the top of this post):
It was my honor and privilege to serve with you Sir you were the best leader any one could have ever had, with tears in my eyes I remember seeing tears in yours as we all mourned the losses of E co 2/1. in fallujah of 04 I will never forget those days Sir. with tears in my eyes now I mourn the loss of you, my Skipper, a man among men. our heart have suffered a great loss, I wished every one knew you. I dont know if I can make it to your procession but my heart cries out and goes to you your wife, daughter and family. As your Marine and brother I will always remember what you told us when we suffered a loss "we must keep fighting, we must keep going on, cause thats what they would do for us they would want us to keep fighting" I will keep fighting Sir. You will always be in my heart Skipper I love you brother. I am so sorry for your loss and words cannot express my pain Mrs Zembiec He was a Father to me in the most darkest times of my life he was the figure of hope for Echo company, My utmost resepct and Love goes to your Husband, you and your daughter, I will always be praying for you. It just breaks my heart so much.
Wake, Funeral and Burial info is below...
Tuesday 05/15/2007 - wake at Taylor Funeral Home in Annapolis, MD. Two sessions 1400-1600 and 1800-2000.
Wednesday 05/16/2007 - funeral service at the UMA-Annapolis Chapel 0900-1100 followed by a procession to Arlington National Cemetary for burial.
The Patriot Guard/Armed Forces Motorcyle Club will lead the procession to take Douglas home.