Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Sgt. Michael W. Finke, Jr.

28, of Huron, Ohio.
Finke died when the CH-53E helicopter he was in crashed near Ar Rutbah, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Died on January 26, 2005.

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"This Memorial Day I now pause for a moment of silence in your HONOR ....."
Jack of Las Vegas

"im sorry for your loss and he will always be with you"
chase of burleson

"May Jesus heal you and your family and restore you with joy as you reflect on the memories of your loved one. Semper Fidelis .."
Matthew of CORONA,CA

"Correction - Iraq"

"The Huron Fallen Heroes Memorial will be dedicated Thursday October 24, 2013 at 8:05 p.m. at Huron Memorial Stadium. "Michael W. Finke, Jr. - Afghanistan" will appear along with 60 other brave souls from Huron who died in all wars. http://huronfallenheroes.org coachpward@yahoo.com"
Paul Ward of Huron, OH

"I served with Mike at North Island. We were in infantry school, security forces school, stationed at North Island and we both rotated back to the fleet at the same time. Mike seemed to have his SRB stapled to mine somehow, because we ended up together again at 3/1 after we left North Island. We did our first deployment on the same boat and got promoted at nearly the same time. It is strange because it seem as if we came in on a buddy program and yet prior to my time in the service I never knew mike. Although he and I had separate lives and friends off duty, we spoke often when we were working. I always found it odd that Mike chose the Marine Corps, when we talked he didn’t fit the stereotype. Not that it was a bad thing but it seemed odd to me. Many of the guys in the company we heavy drinkers, smoked, picked fights, and in general had a bravado that you might associate with a young marine. Mike didn’t seem to have the need for it. He seemed to prefer spending time with his family over chasing every girl in San Diego or would help you complete a task rather than scold you for doing it wrong. We used to pick on him as we, did everyone else, but that is just what we did. Typically if we didn’t like you we wouldn’t even talk to you and mike was no exception we liked him. Yet Mike rarely had an unkind word to say about anyone and had a good sense of humor. Even though he didn’t have something funny to say very often, when he did share it was very funny. He knew what would make us laugh and had great timing. These are the things I think about when I think of Mike. He was not just a Marine or someone that I served with. He was a standup guy who was dedicated to his friends his family and to his country. He was kind, well-spoken and liked by everyone. Those years at North Island were some of the best times in my life; I have many fond memories of the people I served with. I consider many of them to be not only fellow marines but my brothers. When I heard the news that Mike had been killed it made my heart sink. I could not imagine what his family must have felt but I pray that some time they will find peace and that the pain of their loss will diminish. This world is a little emptier without Mike; he is truly missed by his brothers and will not soon be forgotten. Semper Fi Brother"
Joel Horton of Washington

"I to served with Finke at Naval Air Station North Island. Finke was an amazing marine and a good friend to many of us. We do thank you for your sacrifice and we know you are in a better place. Semper Fi and happy birthday brother!"
Rich Kocielko of Elkhart IN USA

"I served with Finke in Security Forces back in 96, then at North Island from 96-98. I have a picture of Finke and others while we were in Virginia. Looking at that picture now and knowing he died in the service of our country saddens me, but I know he is in a better place. I know you are watching us now, so Happy Birthday Marine, you will be missed and remembered."
Sgt. Aldaco, R. P. of Orlando, FL

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take the families pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com"
Scott Steiner of Gahanna, OH

"I knew Michael back on the Island from 96-98. (Navel Air Station North Island, San Diego, Ca.) when we were all so young. I left the Island before Michael did but I did think of him as a friend. I remember one time we were sitting in a fighting position that took us all day to dig and we froze all night long. we were trying to tell each other jokes to get our minds off of how cold we were. fun times! I have told that story often but now when i tell that story it will not be the same. you will be missed my friend. Cpl J.R. Garcia II/USMC"
Officer John R. Garcia II/Houston Police Dept. of Houston, Tx.

"I knew Michael back on the Island from 96-98. (Navel Air Station North Island, San Diego, Ca.) when we were all so young. I left the Island before Michael did but I did think of him as a friend. I remember one time we were sitting in a fighting position that took us all day to dig and we froze all night long. we were trying to tell each other jokes to get our minds off of how cold we were. fun times! I have told that story often but now when i tell that story it will not be the same. you will be missed my friend. Cpl J.R. Garcia II/USMC"
Officer John R. Garcia II of Houston, Tx.

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,600 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Kenna"
Kenna - Project Compasion of Manti, Utah USA

"Mike and his wife Heather (my wife's niece) visited with us for a couple of days over the Christmas holidays just shortly before he deployed. I did not know him long, but I knew he was a good man. It was a shock when we received word of his death, just short of the end of his tour of duty in Iraq. Mike, you are missed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service to our nation and the supreme sacrifice you made."
Walt Fulton, AWC, USN Retired of Lexington Park, MD

"With so many gone or changed for ever Its so hard to justify the sacrafices over and over. But we do. My uncle fought in several campaigns through the Pacicic in WW2. My brother in law came home and hung himself in our backyard after two deployments to Viet Nam. My Dad too was a Marine in WW2 then enlysted in the Navy, fought in Korea and served until 1966 when he retired a P2V navigator patroling for Russian Subs
These were the three most selfless people I ever knew. I'm sure Michael was too. Thank You. Your sacrafice wont be forgotton"
Jerry Rowe of Port Townsend,Wa.USA

"June 3, 2008
To the family of Sgt. Michael W. Finke, Jr.:
Michael gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"MIKE, YOU WERE A BROTHER TO ME! I MISS YOU!"
SGT LAUREN M FERRELL of SAN DIEGO, CA, USA

"New to the FMF, but not to the Corps, I was on my way to report to 2nd Battalion 4th Marines at Camp Pendleton after a 2 year stint with M.C. Security Forces. I stop by my, then fiancé’s work to say goodbye to her when one of her co-workers (Lisa) came up to me and said that she was excited that I was going to Pendleton and that I might meet her cousin, Cpl. Finke. I laughed at the crazy woman as I had to let her know that Pendleton is about the size of Road Island and the likelihood of me running into her kin was slim to none.

I report to 2/4 as I was supposed to, only to be turned away, that another Battalion needed a body more than they did. So I set off to meet my brothers at 3/1. I check in with the OOD and was quickly assigned to 1st Plt. Lima Co. and sent packin to meet the barracks NCO to check into my new home. I knock on the door and who should answer?..... Cpl. Finke.

Mike and I would talk time to time in the hallways about our experiences in the Corps, and I’d even catch’em at family gatherings in San Diego every once in a while.

Funny story: Battalion formation run (everyone loves those!) Finke, then still with Lima Co’s H.Q. Plt., was runnin in the trail end of the formation (as that was the designated spot for us short guys). I was called upon to lead my platoon with a running cadence. Naturally I chose a colorful cadence, one that I can’t fully disclose at this time, but it went something like this: “F. I. N. K. E.! Finke is kinky and so are we!”…. he turned around and laughed as he got a kick out of that.

We went on float as a part of the 13th MEUSOC on the USS Duluth in Aug, 2000 (I believe he was re-assigned to 3rd Plt). We’d bump into each other from time to time and check on how the other was doin, how our families were back home. We were in the Seychelles, just off the coast of Madagascar, when the USS Cole got hit. So together we were a part of Operation Determined Response and escorted the Fed’s to and from our ship to the Cole. We hit Thailand twice on the trip, 5 days out and 5 days commin back in where we’d occasionally see each other.

Just like most of my friends, I got out almost as soon as we got back in early 2001. I honestly can’t say I remember the last time I saw Cpl. Finke, only to say that he did leave an impression on me that he was truly one of the good guys with a good heart…. a good soul. I remember when his cousin, Lisa, had told us of his passing in Iraq. Now, up until that moment, I had not personally known anyone that had made the ultimate sacrifice. But all that changed after we got the phone call from Lisa, he had just been cleared to go home too and was only a couple weeks away.

Mike, I wish I could say that I would have been as brave as you buddy. God Bless you Marine. Semper Fi."
Formerly Sgt. Rick Roberts/ 1st Plt/ Lima Co./ 3rd BLT 1st Marines of Huntington Beach, CA USA

"Dear Michael- Thinking about you today. All my love,
Darcy Oas"
Darcy Oas of Columbia Station, Ohio/USA

""To the finkie family"
Sgt Finkie man I think about you all the time..Ill never forget when we were working on the ships store in route to iraq. I still think about all the jokes we cracked in the barber shop about the navy being nasty haha..You were a amazing leader and good MARINE. One of the best NCO I ever had the chance to serve with.I love you Sgt guard the gates of heaven for me.."
LCPL Owens 1st battalion 3d marines.

"Thinking of you Mike...May we never forget what you did for us."
Erin Daley (Lykins) of Elyria, OH

"""As a veteren of K Co 3/3 and a very short stint (2 Months with G Co)(1986-1990)MCAS K-Bay it saddens me to hear of the loss of my brother Marine but I know he left us bravley fighting to keep my family safe from the evils of the world keeping with the highest traditions of the Corps. I'm now to old to reenlist but if I could I would."""
Lcpl. Robert Blaylock of Lakeside CA, USA

"I was in the emergency room today 11-14-05 when I turned on the tv and saw a quick glimpse of a familiar face and the name Micheal Finke, as soon as I saw that memorable face, I couldn't believe my eyes! I want to Thank him for what he has done overseas as well as at home, I read from the people who knew him how nice he was, this was true in school also! He always wore a bright smile no matter who you were. I am in tears now, so if this is jumbled i apologize! I just now found out and it is too late to go to his funeral! I would have been there. I am so sorry for your family! Please accept my deepest condolences! God Bless!"
Linda Ramer-Khanem of Lakewood, Oh

"To the family of:Michael W. Finke Jr. I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully, we will meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell, Gateway Community Church, 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington, Ga

"To the Finke family,
I am so sorry for your loss. My bestfriend, Cpl Timothy A Knight was with Michael on the helicopter. We lost very wonderful, loving and brave men that day. May they never be forgotten, they were true hero's. You all are in my thoughts and prayers."
Cynthia of Brooklyn/OH/USA

"God Bless Sgt Michael Finke and his family. I was deployed to Afghanistan with my unit, which is also a CH-53E helicopter squadron when we heard the news of the helicopter crash in Iraq. My heart and prayers immediately went out to our lost heros and their familes. The news of Sgt Finke's death was numbing...and it hurt. I had the pleasure of serving with Sgt Finke as his 1stSgt at Camp Pendleton when he worked at Edson Range. His caring attitude and calm demeanor set him apart, and he was truly a leader of Marines. I hope his family finds some solace in knowing that Michael died a hero, and will forever be remembered and missed. SSgt Dexter Kimble was also one of my former Marines who died that night on the CH-53E. He was a Crew Chief, and he and Michael probably only met for a brief moment that night, maybe only shared a few words. They will forever be connected for giving the ultimate sacrifice for their country. They are HEROS!! It's painful knowing they are no longer here, but please know they made a difference. God bless You."
SgtMaj Ramona D. Cook of MCAS Miramar, CA.

"My heart goes out to you in the loss of your son as well. He will never be forgotten. I am compforted knowing that our son's are the keepers of heaven's gate."
Roni Aurelio of Olivehurst, CA. USA

"I served with Finke (We used to call him Stinky pinky Finke) When he was with 3rd bat. 1st. Marines at Camp pendleton. He was the nicest guy I think I have ever met. I am saddened to learn that he was lost, my prayers go out to his family. Semper Fi"
Jeff Dillion, SGT. USMC of Ladera Ranch, Ca

"I grew up next door to Mike in Medina. He always wanted to be a Marine like his father. My condolences to Mike Sr., Sally, Toni, Trisha and Tim. It is very confusing to me to be so proud but so sad at the same time."
Vince Boswell of Columbus, Ohio

"I just wanted you to know that we got the message left from your family and we thank you for the kind and supportive words. May God bless you. Thank you"
Brother of Capt. Paul C. Alaniz of San Antonio, Texas

"I just found this website, and I was Mike's recruiter in Huron.
For me to see this was not something I like to see, and I send sincere condolonces to the Finke family.
He was a good person and a good Marine."
Mike Brown GySgt /USMC/Ret'd of Pittsburgh, Pa

"Sally,
My name is Rob Hopper, father of Lance Cpl Brian Hopper, who was on the helicopter with Michael. Thank you so much for the kind words and I am very sorry for you and your family. I feel like we should stay in touch if you would like to.
Thanks again for your message,
Rob Hopper email: rob.hopper@pbsgc.com"
Rob Hopper of Wynne, AR

"To the family of Michael know that we will always keep you in our prayers. Michael was a hero just like the rest of the men and women who serve this country.We will never forget Michael."
Jon Winklepleck ,Uncle of Cpl. Nathan Schubert of Sioux Falls SD jwpleck@hotmail.com

"Michael, Uncle Phil & I were so proud of you & so honored to be present at your graduation from boot camp. We continued to be so proud of you as we followed your career & we were so happy that you were able to fulfill you dream of being a marine. You left us too soon. You will always be in our thoughts. We are forever grateful for you & all the marines that have made the ultimate sacrifice for your country. Love from Uncle Phil & Aunt Nancy"
Nancy of Carmel, In.

"Mike will be remembered and honored as a hero fighting for freedom."
Kelley of Phoenix, AZ

"My sincere condolences for the loss of your loved one. May god Bless us all. My nephew Kyle Grimes was on that chopper too. I will never forget these brave young men. My thought and prayers are with you!"
Elizabeth Souders of Bethlehem, Pa Silybet@aol.com

"Michael, your dedicated service to our country made the entire family proud. We all love you and will miss you. You shall be in our hearts forever."
Aunt Sandy of Green Cove Springs, Fl.

"To the family of Michael Finke, Jr.
Hold on to your family, friends, and prayers because that will be what gets us through this. Our memories are the one thing that cannot be taken from us...so as we continue to cry, please don't be afraid to laugh. Please feel free to share your memories of Michael with me because I would really like to know him. My brother Nathan had the tightest group of friends back home that you could ever imagine, and I'm sure he was the same way with his Marines. It just leaves me wanting to know more about all of them. We lost a great bunch of young men. Take care and God Bless Michael!"
Elizabeth Householder (sister of CPL Nathan Schubert) of Whittemore, IA USA

"May God watch over you. My son, Cpl. Richard A Gilbert, Jr., died with Michael and 29 others on that helicopter. They will forever be brothers in arms."
Helen Gilbert of Dayton, Ohio

"My brother Cpl. Richard Gilbert, Jr. was with Michael on that tragic day. My condolences to his family."
Melissa Rader of Dayton,Ohio

"Mike you will be very much missed, even thou you and my sister were divorced. You will always be in my heart as my brother-in-law."
Bertha Lopez-Cordova of San Diego, CA

"To the family of Michael, stay strong he is a hero."
Mike of New Jersey

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Michael W. Finke, Jr.,

Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us. May you find comfort in love's everlasting connection.

In the Support section of this web site you will find links to many groups that support you at this crucial time. The Marine Comfort Quilt group would be honored to send a quilt to the next of kin. There are many, loving and caring Americans from all over the United States that will never forget the sacrifice that your loved one has made for our Freedom. Please use our link and register so we can send you our "Love Stitched Together."
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca USA

"There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"We Will NEVER FORGET !"
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Michael, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Thank you Michael Finke, Jr., you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Michael Finke, Jr.:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Michael for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Michael Finke, Jr.:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Michael, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on