06 April 2015

11 Years since 2/4 Marines ambush in Ramadi, Iraq

Today marks a sad day in that it has been 11 years since 12 men of 2/4 Marines were killed in a savage ambush in the marketplace along Route Gypsum in Ramadi, Iraq. Gold Star dad John Wroblewski and I traveled to Rt. Gypsum to perform a memorial service for the Fallen Warriors on 6 March 2008, and stood where John's son, 2nd Lt. J.T. "Ski" Wroblewski was mortally wounded during the battle. The names of the Fallen as read by John Wroblewski during the memorial service are as follows:

"LCpl Benjamin Carman, LCpl Marcus Cherry, PFC Christopher Cobb, LCpl Kyle Crowley, PFC Deryk Hallal, PFC Ryan Jerabek, PFC Moises Langhorst, LCpl Travis Layfield, HM3 Fernandez Mendez, LCpl Anthony Roberts, SSgt Allan Walker, and my hero, 2Lt John Thomas Wroblewski."

Not only were the lives of the families of these men affected, but the lives of their Marine brothers were also changed forever. I have had the honor of meeting several of these men, and they still miss their fallen comrades to this day, and wish they could have done something to save their brothers. David Swanson, a photojournalist from the Philadelphia Enquirer, was embedded with 2/4 prior to and following the 6 April battle, spent time with 2nd Lt. Wroblewski and others in the unit. Swanson was also wounded in the ensuing battle when the rest of the unit came to rescue their fellow Marines from the hundreds of insurgents surrounding the patrol.  

In recent comments to a post I made on the 2nd Btn 4th Marines' Facebook page, many of the Marines that served with the Fallen shared their memories. I only have specific permission from Ben Musser to share his comment, but will share the other thoughts if the men agree to do so. Ben Musser wrote, "Lt. Ski was my platoon Commander. He was probably the coolest officer I ever met. He didn't join our unit acting like he knew everything, but would ask Lance Corporals how they normally did stuff, things like that. My fondest memory of the man was in Kuwait. It was evening time, no training. Everyone was getting ready to sleep, and someone came in saying that Lt. Ski wanted to see me. I was just a LCpl, and there wasn't a reason any Lt. should be talking to me individually. So, I went over to the officers hooch and Lt. Ski came out. He pulled me off to the side so nobody would overhear, and quietly asked me if I had any Pantera CD's that he could borrow. He said he felt like jamming out to some heavy shit, and I was the guy that might have some. That was the moment he showed me he was a real person to me. He was a great Officer, and a great human (being.)"

Many other Marines lost their lives in the battles that followed the 6 April 2004 ambush in both Ramadi and Fallujah. By honoring them through our memories and shared stories, we can keep them alive forever. 

As we all know, the situation in Iraq has changed greatly today. Regardless of that, the Marines and soldiers in Iraq served with bravery, distinction, and honor, and accomplished everything they were ordered to do there. I am proud of all of you, and thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your service and sacrifices. Having walked the streets of Ramadi with 2/8 Marines in March 2008, and accomplishing my mission to get John Wroblewski to Route Gypsum, I know I will never forget these brave men that made the ultimate sacrifice on that terrible day in April 2004, along with the loss their families experienced. Today and always, the Magnificent Bastards of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines and their families will be in my thoughts and prayers.  

Here are a few of my photographs from the 6 March 2008 memorial service performed by John Wroblewski, Major General John Kelly, and PSD Company Marines. Oohrah!



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