MARJAH, Afghanistan --
Throughout history, Marines have been called upon to fight enemies who oppress people and endanger our country’s freedom. Thousands of Marines have unselfishly stepped into harm’s way and answered that call with their lives. The legacy of past battles, fallen comrades, and sacrifices for country and Corps has permanently imprinted their names into history for generations to come.
Second Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment gathered to honor the life of Sgt. Frank R. Zaehringer, an assaultman with Weapons Company, 2/9, during a memorial service here, Oct. 19. Zaehringer made the ultimate sacrifice, Oct. 11, while conducting combat operations in Northern Marjah.
A somber silence fell over the crowd as they stood with their heads bowed in remembrance of their fallen brother.
Lt. Col. James R. Fullwood, the commanding officer of 2/9, took the podium to memorialize Zaehringer as a man and a Marine.
“Frank was known as a Marine’s Marine, a man who was passionate about his profession but who was also passionate about his friends and brothers,” said Fullwood. “Frank was also dedicated to his family and unselfishly wanted nothing but the best for those around him. He was passionate about life and gave 100 percent of himself to the mission at hand. Whether that mission was being a Marine, a husband or a friend, he never held back.”
During the memorial service, Marines who served alongside Zaehringer were given a chance to pay their respects.
Sgt. Michael Porter, a machine gunner with Weapons Company, 2/9, spoke as if Zaehringer was beside him, overlooking the crowd.
“You, my dear Frankie are a good boy; we are all proud,” said Porter. “Your mom and dad could never have raised you better and could never have asked for anything more; none of us could.
You are my friend and my brother in every possible sense of the word.”
The song, “Amazing Grace,” resounded over the steady breeze, bringing the memorial service to an end. Close by, a group of Marines stood at attention, waiting for the command to perform a 21-gun salute.
The detail raised their rifles and fired rounds into the sky, giving the fallen warrior a final and honorable farewell.
“I wish that none of our nation’s most precious resource, men like Sgt. Zaehringer, were lost in this manner,” said Capt. Ronald Diefenbach, commanding officer for Weapons Company, 2/9. “Men who struggle for righteousness on foreign soil deserve the honors of our great nation. Frank’s sacrifice was not in vain. One day we shall look back at our struggle here, and the greatest honor for Sgt. Zaehringer will come when Afghanistan is free from the bonds of oppression.”
Sgt. Zaehringer is survived by his wife, Mrs. Cassie L. Zaehringer; his mother, Sharon K. Zaehringer; and his father, Frank R. Zaehringer. His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.