Sunday, November 20, 2005------------------------------------------------------------------------
With the sad news of the death of a young local Marine in Iraq and the impending stress of attending his funeral (still not scheduled, should be held later this week) looming on my horizon, I wanted to post an interesting article that was written by one of our Marines and posted just after the death of LCpl Scott Zubowski. One of the featured Marines in this article is Scott's brother Sgt. David Zubowski (who is also serving currently in Iraq). Sgt. David Zubowski was interviewed for this article just days before his brother, LCpl. Scott Zubowski, lost his life during his tour of duty in Iraq. In the words of one of my fellow Marine mothers, we feel that this story speaks volumes about the Zubowski family and I wanted to share it with everyone.
Semper Fi and God bless you all.
Gunfighters send U.S. flags flown in combat home to families
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20051115132723
Story by Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan
TAQQADUM, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2005) -- For many, the flag is more than a symbol of the government. It represents the shared values of the people of the United States and their greatest ideal, freedom.
The Gunfighters of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 fly this symbol at Al Taqqadum, Iraq, and proudly take it with them in UH-1 Hueys and AH-1 Cobras during combat missions.
“Our flag represents pride in what we’re doing here,” said Sgt. David Zubowski, a UH-1 Huey crew chief with the Gunfighters and New Castle, Ind., native. “Looking at our flag, it just reminds you and makes you feel good about being here bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.”
Zuboswski has taken the flag with him during combat missions and flown it out of the Huey as he successfully returned back to camp each time.
“While you’re out on the mission, the flag sits in the back of your mind,” said Zubowski. “Once you come back, it comes to the forefront. When we return from combat missions, I fly our flag out of the Huey and everyone who sees it starts pointing and cheering. It’s a great feeling.”
The flags the Gunfighters fly in Iraq are sent to their families and loved ones in the United States. They get to pick the exact day the flag flies and send home a part of history.
“The flag flies into battle with the Marines and is there when the gunfire happens,” said Staff Sgt. Gary P. Huff, the Gunfighters’ support equipment plan maintenance staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge and Troy, Kan., native. “There is a certain amount of pride giving this kind of very personal gift. When we send a flag, we’re sending home a symbol of what we are doing here.”
Huff runs the flag program for his section and said he is running out of dates to fly flags. He said it is a morale booster, and when a person’s flag is flying, he will know it’s his flag going out on a mission.
“I think the whole squadron will send a flag home,” said Sgt. Maj. Troy Couron, the Gunfighters’ sergeant major and Nebraska native. “The Marines here sometimes fly two flags in one day. They are also constantly flying missions and taking their flags with them.”
Zubowski said the Gunfighters’ morale is high, and this program just adds to it.
“As long as we keep the birds flying, our morale will be high,” said Zubowski. “We know we are doing our jobs and supporting the guys on the ground. Our flag represents this mission to us and a great deal more.”
Couron said during the Gunfighters first 25 days in Iraq, they flew more than 1,300 combat hours. In the United States, he said it would take them more than two months to accomplish the feat.
“Sometimes, it’s really intense here,” said Cpl. Sean F. Mackall, a crew chief with the Gunfighters. “We work really hard and it can be really frustrating knowing there are Marines on the ground who need our help. But, we don’t shoot until we get a positive identification.”
Contrary to the insurgents, the Gunfighters make every attempt to use caution and not kill innocent civilians. They said their flag represents the values and ideals which make the United States the most powerful nation in the world.
“I think it’s awesome that I’ll get to send a flag home,” said Mackall. “My parents have a great deal of pride in what I am doing and what the other Marines are doing here. They support us and this flag will serve as a symbol of what we are doing here.”
Zubowski said he can’t think of anywhere else on the earth where the U.S. flag is flown out of a Huey and into battle.
“It will be a big thing for my father-in-law to get,” said Zubowski. “He was in the Army and is very patriotic and supportive of what we are doing here. After receiving a flag from Iraq that was flown in combat, he will definitely hang it in a place of honor.”
Photos included with story: Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 fly an AH-1 Cobra out of Taqqadum, Iraq, and into combat, Oct. 30. The Gunfighters take the U.S. flag with them on combat missions in Iraq and send it back to family and loved ones in the United States. Photo by: Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan