AP - Iraq attacks hit Ohio military families hard

Thursday, August 4, 2005

(The Associated Press)COLUMBUS, Ohio - Rosemary Palmer and her husband were making plans to attend memorial services for six Marine reservists killed earlier this week — five of them from the same battalion as her son, Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder — when two uniformed servicemen came down her street. It was her family’s turn. “We knew. They didn’t even get a chance to knock,” Palmer said. For relatives of those in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, there has been a sudden spike in such grim visits from uniformed servicemen. Schroeder, 23, of Cleveland, and 13 more Marines from the Ohio-based battalion were killed Wednesday along with a civilian interpreter in the deadliest roadside bombing in Iraq. The Marines’ deaths, along with two others slain July 28, brought the battalion’s toll to 21 in a week. Eleven of those were part of the same Columbus-based unit, Lima Company, that lost four Marines in a single day in May. 'A little bit ridiculous' Pat Wilsox, who manages a doughnut shop by the battalion’s headquarters in the Cleveland suburb of Brook Park, threw her hand over her heart when she heard of the latest deaths. “Oh my God,” she said softly. “I’m all for protection but this is getting a little bit ridiculous.” Lance Cpl. Timothy Michael Bell Jr., 22, of West Chester in suburban Cincinnati, and Lance Cpl. Brett Wightman, 22, of Sabina near Dayton, also were among the Lima Company casualties, relatives said. Military officials said they would not release a list of the dead until they finished tracking down relatives. Isolde Zierk, 59, coordinator of Lima Company’s family support group, found an answering machine full of messages from worried families when she got to her Columbus home after work Wednesday evening. A neighbor stopped by to see if she’d heard anything about her own son, Sgt. Guy Zierk, 29, who serves in Lima Company. She hadn’t. “My stomach’s in knots,” she said, choking back tears. Mohammed Modiur Rahman, 54, of Columbus, said he last heard from his son, Cpl. Mohammed N. Rahman, about three days earlier. The Marine sounded nervous, his father said. The father said his son told him he lost his best friend in the unit, Cpl. Andre L. Williams, who was killed last Thursday when Lima Company came under attack near Cykla in western Iraq. “I think I’ve been to nine of these just in central Ohio in the past few months,” he said outside Lima Company’s headquarters. The front door of the Montgomery family home in Willoughby east of Cleveland is decorated with two blue stars, one for each of the sons who served with the Marines in Iraq. Eric Montgomery, 21, will be coming home soon — but only to escort the body of his older brother, 26-year-old Lance Cpl. Brian Montgomery, among the six killed in Monday’s attack. Palmer said she and her husband, Paul Schroeder, last spoke with their son about a week ago. He said he was tired of flushing insurgents out of the same places, just to have them reappear with better weapons. “He said the closer they got to the time to come home, the less it was worth it,” she said. Battalion has storied history The 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, was first activated on May 1, 1943, and fought in several battles in World War II. It helped capture a key airfield at the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. Members, based in this blue-collar Cleveland suburb of 21,000, were activated in January and went to Iraq in March. Lt. Col. Kevin Rush, part of the family notification detail, said the volunteers were aware of the risks. “Everyone who joins the battalion knows what they are getting into,” he said. “It’s infantry. They are at the front line.” Donald Morgan, 21, of Parma Heights, another Cleveland suburb, just finished a tour of duty and is planning to re-enlist. He had yet to serve in Iraq but said going was “not a problem.” “All Marines are brothers,” he said, placing two flags amid flowers, crosses and stuffed animals at display outside battalion headquarters. “I only took a moment to reflect on it. We all have a job to do.”


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