If you do not know about the Lion of Fallujah, you should. When staff writer Tony Perry went to Fallujah in 2004 to report on the war, he ended up writing a whole piece about one Marine instead. His name was Douglas Zembiec and the article was titled: Unapologetic Warrior. What Perr liked about Zembiec was how quotable he was. If you don’t have time to read the article below, you can at least relish the no nonsense manner in which this Marine responded when being interviewed:
“From day one, I’ve told [my troops] that killing is not wrong if it’s for a purpose, if it’s to keep your nation free or to protect your buddy,” he said. “One of the most noble things you can do is kill the enemy. These young Marines didn’t enlist to get money to go to college. They joined the Marines to be part of a legacy.”
What is not commonly known about this young man is that he looked to the late Col. John Ripley as a mentor. When I read more about Zembiec I noticed the striking similarities between the two men. Both displayed a ferocity on the battlefield which was almost unmatched and both were Catholics and both treated their men with respect.
“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” up your behind, said Sgt. Casey Olson. “But even when he’s getting at you, he doesn’t do it so you feel belittled.”
Said Lt. Daniel Rosales: “He doesn’t ask anything of you that he doesn’t ask of himself.”
Like Col. Ripley he took time in the middle of battles to write condolence letters to the families of deceased Marines.
He also recommended individuals for combat commendations: “I’m completely in awe of their bravery,” he said. “The things I have seen them do, walking through firestorms of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades and not moving and providing cover fire for their men so they can be evacuated… ”
Zembiec was killed in action on May 10, 2007. He was 34 years old. May he rest in peace!
Col. John Ripley and his son Tom were the ones designated by Zembiec himself — should he die in combat– to deliver the message of his death to his widow Pamela.