© 2023 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local Marines Remembered

A Marine Reserve Unit based in Columbus today is preparing for funerals following combat deaths during a major U-S offensive in Iraq. The infantry squad took casualties while participating in "Operation Matador" aimed at rooting out insurgents in western Iraq.

A lance corporal greeted visitors at the Marine Corps Reserve Center adjacent to Rickenbacker airport. Bits and pieces of news arrived by fax and telephone...Lima Company,Third Battalion, 25th regiment took casualties while fighting near the Iraq-Syrian border.

Site Commander and Chief Warrant Officer Orrin Bowman says the unit is working to contact and comfort families of marines killed in action. The Department of defense has identified two casualties from Lima Company as 20 year old Lance Corporal Wesley Davids of Dublin and 24 year old Corporal Dustin Derga. Derga's father, Robert,says his son, Dustin, graduated from Pickerington High School Central and was part of the tech prep program. He then went to college and joined the Marine Reserve.

Derga says he had only limited communication with his son after the unit landed in Iraq in early March. He said he talked to Dustin maybe four or five times total on the telephone. He also received some e-mails.

Chief Warrant Officer Orrin Bowman says its been some years since the reserve infantry unit has seen combat. It was last deployed in 1991 for "Operation Desert Storm." But it has also been deployed in the past for overseas training missions.

Also at Unit headquarters today: volunteer Isolde Zuerk. She also has a son in Iraq but has spent the past week consoling others.

Funeral services for Corporal Derga are scheduled Monday in Pickerington. Services for other marines are pending.