AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Huddled together in a poorly lit room inside the 17th Street Security Station, a group of warriors came together to bid their final farewells to a fallen brother.
Marines, sailors, soldiers and Iraqi Policemen came together for a memorial to honor of the sacrifice of Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz, during a ceremony at a firm base in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Nov. 29.
Schwarz, a machine gunner for Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, died while conducting combat operations in the city on Nov. 27.
More than 50 service members from various units gathered at the ceremony to honor Schwarz as a brother, a warrior and a Marine.
“If there is one thing I can say about Schwarz, it’s that he was a good Marine,” said Capt. Stephen K. Sloan, commanding officer of Company A. “When others talk about us, that’s what we hope they would say.”
Schwarz was popular amongst his peers, known as an enthusiastic professional and a selfless person who genuinely cared for his fellow Marines.
“Schwarz was a great guy,” said Lance Cpl. Jose N. Ramirez, a machine gunner for Company A. “He was always someone to put others in front of himself.”
During the ceremony, Schwarz’s team leader, Cpl. Joshua J. Pitcher, shared a story from early in the deployment to demonstrate the selfless nature of the fallen warrior.
Noticing some reservation in his squad before clearing a building in Central Ramadi, Pitcher approached his nervous point man (Schwarz) and offered to enter the building first.
“I asked if he wanted me to go in first,” said Pitcher. “He looked at me and said, ‘No disrespect Corporal, but you have a wife and kid back home, and you’re not going anywhere first.’”
Although skilled and respected as a Marine, Schwarz was best remembered as a friend to many in the company.
Schwarz was quick to make friends anywhere he went, with his outgoing personality easily winning over anyone he spent time with.
“Schwarz was a crazy guy with tattoos all over,” said Lance Cpl. Jason D. Sturgill, a rifleman with Company A. “First impressions really didn’t do him justice.”
As a friend and fellow warrior, Schwarz left a lasting impression on many in his company and throughout the battalion.
Although he will be sorely missed, Schwarz will live on forever as a hero to the Marines who’ve served beside him, said Ramirez.
“There’s a place in heaven reserved for heroes, and that’s where we’ll find him,” said Pitcher.
Schwarz was born in Hackensack, N.J. on Aug. 16, 1986. He was raised in Carlstadt, N.J., and graduated from Becton Regional High School.
Schwarz enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 19, 2005. He was participating in his first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.