Gold Star Mothers of New Mexico
Major Douglas Alexander Zembiec 4-14-73 to 5-11-2007
Doug was born in Kaelakekua, Hawaii on April 14, 1973. Growing up in New Jersey, and then in New Mexico during his mid school and high school years, Doug sought challenges. Getting pinned as a young junior westler only made him practice harder and strive for one day becoming the best. Doug loved the outdoors and also knew from an early aage that he wanted someday to become a military officer.
Doug graduated from La Cueva High Schoo, Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1991 but not before becoming La Cueva High School's first State Champ, first two-time State Champ, first undefeated State Champ, first high school All-American, and La Cueva's first Division I college All-America. Doug was known for his unrelenting single leg take down on the mat. He says his high school coach Ron Owens, taught him more than he learned in any classroom. From wrestling he learned about life, learned how to work as a team, to trust, and how to face his challenges and overcome fear.
At the United State Naval Academy he wrestled all four years and became a collegiate, All-American wrestler at 177. He used his single leg take down that he learned in New Mexico to win college tounaments and was an inspiration and mentor to his fellow wrestlers.
Doug was able to lead a life of integrity and honor because he learned as a young man a set of prinicples his father taught him. "Live with integrity for without integrity we deceive ourselves, we live in a house of cards. Fight for what you believe, for without valor we lose our freedom. Be willing to sacrifice, for anything worthy in life requires sacrifice. Be disciplined, for it is discipline that builds the foundation of your success. Be a man of principle. Fight for what you believe in. Kepp your word. Live with integrity. Be brave. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Serve your country. Teach. Mentor, Give something back to society. Lead from the front. Conquer your fears. Be a good friend. Be humble, but be self-confident. Appreciate your friends and family. Be a leader not a follower. Be valorous on the field of battle and take responsibility for your actions."
Doug graduated from La Cueva High School in 1991 and then graduated from the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD in 1995. At UNSA he was a two time All-American wrestler. Upon graduation Doug was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, May 31, 1996.
After finishing the Basic School, and the Infantry Officer's course, he was assigned to First Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment as a rifle platoon commander in April 1996. In June 1997, after successfulling passing the force reconnaissance indoctrination, he was transferred to Second Force Reconnaissance Oc., Camp LeJeune, NC, where he served for two and a half years as a platoon commander, eight months as an interm company commander, and one month as an operations officer. As a platoon commander, Doug's force reconnaissance platoon was among the first conventional forces to enter Kosovo during Operation Joint Guardian in June 1999.
In September 2000 he transferred to the Amphibious Reconnaissance School (ARS) located at Ft. Story, VA and served as the Assistant Officer-In-Charge (XO) for two years. From ARS, he was selected to attend the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warefare School *EWS( in Quantice, VA where he graduatd in May 2003.
After graduating from EWS Doug took command of Company E, Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment in July 2003. As a rifle company commander, he lead 168 Marines and sailors in the first conventional ground assault into Fallujah, Iraq during Operation Vigilant Resolve. It was in Fallujah, Iraq of April 2004 that Doug became known as the "Lion of Fallujah" for his heroism where he braved enemy fire to climbe onto a tank to personally direct the gunner's fire against insurgents. He turned over his command in Novmeber 2004 and served as an assistant operations officer at the Marine Corp's First Special Operations Training (1st SOTG) where he ran the urban patrolling/Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUNT) and tank infantry training packages for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Iraq. Dough transferred from 1st SOTG tothe Regional Supoprt Element, Headquarters, Marine Corps in June 2005. He was promoted to Major on July 1, 2005.
His personal awards include:
Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Distinguished Device for Valor, Purple Hears (2), Combat Action Ribbon (2), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3), Navy and Marine Corps Comm. Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2), NATO Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global Was on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2), Kosovo Campaign Medal, NCAA Award of Valor 2007, NM Sports Hall of Fame Award of Distinction, 2007.
Doug was on his fourth tour to the Middle East when he was killed on May 11, 2007 while commanding a raid on insurgent forces in Baghdad. He was aawarded the Silver Star Medal for his valor in saving the lives of his men during this raid. He was 34 years old.
He is survived by his wife Pamela and daughter Fallyn Justice Zembiec, partents Donald and Jo Ann Zembiec and brother John Zembiec.
"Even thought it is the end we journey towards, it is the journey that matters in the end"
Doug's journey has been and will continue to be an inspiration for many. Doug is buried in the Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, VA.