Mother of Fallen Marine Pours Out Support

By Sgt. Jessica Kent, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, May 10, 2007 - "I have a lot of trust and faith in the Marines I'm with. They will take care of me as much as I'll take care of them. But please try to not worry so much! I love you too much not to come home to see you."

Marine Sgt. Michael Marzano wrote those words in a letter to his mother 30 days before his dream of coming home was cut short. It was the only letter she received before the 28-year-old infantryman was killed in action in Fallujah, Iraq, May 7, 2005.

The Greenville, Pa., native wrote that he truly loved his country and loved being a Marine. Two years after Marzano died beside his brothers-in-arms, Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan Kohrig, a personal security officer with Multinational Force Iraq, flew a flag over Baghdad in honor of Marzano's sacrifice.

The flag, which will be presented to Marzano's mom in person, also was flown in honor of Margy Marzano. The proud Marine mother picked up the fight after her son was killed and continued to take care of Marines by supporting "Operation Taking Care of Our Own."

"Since last year we have exchanged e-mails, not to mention the hundreds of care packages and donations that she and her organization have sent," Kohrig said.

Kohrig organized Operation Taking Care of our Own to rush supplies and comfort items to wounded troops and civilians at the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad's International Zone. Many of these wounded Americans and Iraqis have no clothes to wear during recovery.

After Margy spread word that troops were in need, Kohrig's team of Marines saw a surge of donated flip-flops, towels, T-shirts and pajama bottoms for the wounded.

Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Mendoza, a scout sniper wounded in action and transported to the hospital, said he wouldn't be wearing the clothes that he's wearing right now if it weren't for these people.

"I am very appreciative of everyone involved in this," he said. "It makes me feel at home and more comfortable."

While Kohrig said he appreciates the surge of supplies for wounded heroes, he added he has more reasons for proudly flying a flag in honor of the Marzanos. Margy also is president of the Arizona Chapter of Operation Homefront, an organization that supports deployed troops and their families at home.

"This war is not just (in Iraq); it is (in the States) as well," she said. "We have your back over here while you have our back over there. Some of these families are financially struggling; some are (struggling) emotionally. If I can help a family here, then I know that I am helping someone over there."

Margy's dedication to supporting the troops started when her son joined the Marine Corps in 1999. Though she was afraid to see him join the Corps at first, Margy said, his pride was contagious and she couldn't have been any prouder.

But when he deployed to Iraq, she knew deep down that it would be a one-way deployment, she said. Five years after enlisting, Michael died beside his Marine brothers, doing what he loved most.

"He was a Marine. I know a lot of people say that, but he truly lived and breathed the Corps," Margy said. "He was not happy being a civilian and not wearing the uniform. Being a Marine was who he was, even though he was my boy. He was funny, big-hearted and loved animals and kids. He was a history buff. He wanted to be a veterinarian. He would have made a great father someday. He was awesome."

One of Margy's greatest fears now is that her son could be forgotten. While Michael is a hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice, she said, Marines like Kohrig also are heroes. She strives to continue her son's legacy by helping them.

"She loved her son with all her heart and supported his decision when he felt a calling to serve the Corps," Kohrig said. "To this very day she works to take care of wounded servicemembers, ensuring their needs are met in their deepest time of need."

As Margy struggles with the loss of her son on Mother's Day, Kohrig has a message for her.

"Michael Marzano is not forgotten," he said. "Know that Michael is very proud and watching over you on this Mother's Day."

(Marine Corps Sgt. Jessica Kent is assigned to the Public Affairs Office of Multinational Corps Iraq.)

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