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Thursday, May 17, 2007
Major Douglas A. Zembiec, United States Marine Corps
by Cordeiro
I am very much a fan of Blackfive’s Someone You Should Know and Fallen But Not Forgotten series. Matt provides far better information than I have time to get, so normally I leave the memorials in his capable hands. That said, when I came across his posting on Major Douglas A. Zembiec, USMC, I had to add my name to the list of Zembiec admirers.

Major Zembiec was killed in action last week during a Baghdad firefight. He had previously distinguished himself several times on the battlefield – earning a Bronze Star (with the Combat “V”) and two Purple Hearts. He was known in Iraq as the Lion of Fallujah – a moniker he no doubt earned under fire. He was, by all accounts, a Marine’s Marine. I know several active and retired Marines, and I feel safe in saying there are few higher honors one Marine can bestow upon another.

You can tell a lot about a man by the people who make the effort to attend his funeral. Zembiec was laid to rest in the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Some 40 of Zembiec’s enlisted men were in attendance – some coming from as far away as Camp Pendleton in California. One Marine officer was quoted as saying “Your men have to follow your orders; they don't have to go to your funeral.”

Also in attendance were some 15 generals in addition to several other active-duty and retired Marine officers. Again, nobody is required to attend these ceremonies. I did not have the honor of meeting Major Zembiec – but I can tell he had the respect of those he served under, and those he commanded. I found a photo essay tribute to Major Zembiec here.

I was touched by some thoughts Zembiec had jotted down in several notebooks – things he wanted to accomplish, things he wanted to impart unto others. Here’s what was shared with the Washington Post’s Dan Morse:
Become the greatest husband and father ever.

Be a man of principle. Fight for what you believe in. Keep your word. Live with integrity. Be brave. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Serve your country.

Teach. Mentor. Give something back to society. Lead from the front. Conquer your fears. Be a good friend. Be humble and be self-confident.

Appreciate your friends and family. Be a leader and not a follower. Be valorous on the field of battle. And take responsibility for your actions.
Most of the above quoted lines came under the heading “Principles my father taught me.” Would that we had more fathers imparting such wisdom unto their sons and daughters.

Major Zembiec leaves behind a wife (Pamela) and a one-year-old daughter Fallyn. I hope Fallyn learns the principles her father taught all of us.

Godspeed, Major.

Here endeth the lesson.
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