US Marine Corps Major General John Kelley wrote the note below to the parents of Sgt Michael Ferschke (a team leaders in A Company, 3rd Recon Battalion), who will be buried in the Tennessee Veterans Cemetery, tomorrow, in Knoxville, TN. This one note will tell you more about our Corps and it’s leaders than you’ll find anywhere.
Yesterday in a nameless spot in the Iraqi desert near the village of Ayn-al Faris east of Lake Tar-Tar, Michael was on patrol when they took fire from a seemingly abandoned house they were about to search. With him at the time were several other Marines two of whom were wounded and are recovering. They live and fight as a team, these young men, and his buddies did what Marines have done from the beginning of our history, something they do without thinking and always without hesitation—they risked their own lives to save his. In spite of grave danger from the continuing firefight they struggled to save his life, but he was already gone to God. They were with him when he died. He was not alone and was surrounded by the finest men on earth…
I did not know your son, but I am sure he was just like every Marine I have known in the three decades and more that I have served. Like my own two sons who are Marines and have served here in this war, I bet he was a good looking young man, fun loving, into sports and a good son—but not perfect—boys never are. He was also different Mr. and Mrs. Ferschke, because he chose to leave the comfortable and safe confines of his home and walk a different path than all the rest. The path he chose led him to be one of the nations finest, to be a Marine. When he did not have to raise his right hand and swear before his God to serve and protect this nation and its people, he did just that. We all owe him an eternal debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. We also owe you and all who loved him a debt—one that can never be settled…
In my private moments I well up and come near to tears when I think of them. They are not just tears of sorrow, but also of joy and hope that we still have men of substance who are not afraid to step forward and face our enemies without flinching or backing down. I never had the privilege of knowing Michael, but I will remember him, and pray for him and for all those who mourn his loss, for the rest of my life.
Twelve terrorists were killed in that house and a trove of intel was discovered. The intel has led to more actions which will make Iraq a safer place. According to Sergeant Ferschke’s Battalion Commander, LtCol Seely, Ferschke’s team charged into a hail of bullets and fought off suicide bombers and automatic weapons fire to recover the Sergeant’s remains.
Sergeant Ferschke was 22, married and had just found out that his wife was pregnant.