NM Marine/NCAA AA @ Navy Killed in Iraq
From the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Sun-News
ALBUQUERQUE — A highly decorated Marine who grew up in Albuquerque and became La Cueva High School's first state wrestling champion and later a fearless leader on the battlefield has been killed while serving in Iraq.
The U.S. Defense Department hasn't released details of Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec's death, but family friends said the Marine's parents, Donald and Jo Ann Zembiec of Albuquerque, were notified late Thursday.
Zembiec, 34, was known for being upbeat and confident despite the sometimes grim circumstances of war. In 2004, he led the 2nd Battalion's Echo Company through a monthlong fight for the city of Fallujah. He was wounded himself and wrote letters to the families of Marines who were killed.
"I believe they died for a cause, even if we pull out tomorrow," Zembiec told the San Diego Union-Tribune last year while recalling the battle. "They all died for something bigger than themselves. They stand for what is right about mankind."
In a profile done by the Los Angeles Times in 2004, Zembiec said there was no greater honor than leading men into combat. "Once you've dealt with life and death like that, it gives you a whole new perspective," he told the newspaper.
Inside La Cueva High's
athletics department office, that article is framed and hangs on the wall. Zembiec was the school's first state wrestling champion his junior year and won all of his matches his senior year en route to a second state championship.
"He was a very, very special kid and so mentally tough and had just an outstanding work ethic. You just couldn't beat him," said Ron Owen, former La Cueva wrestling coach.
Zembiec also went out for the school's cross-country team. While he wasn't a cross-country star, he used the sport to stay in shape for wrestling.
After graduating in 1991, Zembiec went to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he continued to wrestle and earned All-American status.
In addition to his parents and a brother, Zembiec is survived by his wife and a young daughter.
Last edited by Schlottke; 05-16-2007 at 08:50 AM.
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