KIA May 11, 2007
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps National Capital Region, Henderson Hall, Arlington, Virginia
Maj Douglas A. Zembiec died May 11, 2007 was killed by enemy small arms fire while commanding a raid on insurgent forces in Baghdad, Iraq. Douglas was serving with the CIA’s Special Activities Division Ground Branch and on his fourth combat tour to Iraq when he was killed.
Douglas, a 1995 graduate of the Naval Academy, was one of the most highly trained officers in the Marine Corps. An unabashed warrior who considered it an honor to lead his Marines into combat, Douglas had a reputation for inspiring his men with a selfless, lead-from-the-front philosophy.
In 2004, then Capt. Zembiec became known as the “Lion of Fallujah” when he led the 2nd Battalion’s Echo Company through a month long fight for the city of Fallujah and was wounded by shrapnel in a battle in which two of his Marines were killed and 18 wounded. In a profile by the Los Angeles Times that year, Douglas 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. He was also referred to as the “Unapologetic Warrior.”
The Commandant of the Marine Corps created the Douglas A. Zembiac Award for Outstanding Leadership in Special Operations to annually “recognize the Marine officer who best exemplifies outstanding leadership as a Team Leader in the Marine Corps Special Operations Community.”
Douglas received a Silver Star, Bronze Star, with Combat Distinguishing Device and two Purple Hearts due to wounds incurred in action. He is survived by his wife, Pamela; daughter, Fallyn; and his parents, Donald and Jo.
Maj Doug A. Zembiec was 34 years old from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Original portrait was presented October 27, 2012 to his wife, friends, and comrades during a special event hosted by the Travis Manion Foundation in Washington, D.C.