Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Marine Sgt. Michael E. Bitz

31, of Ventura, California.
He was assigned to the 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Died on March 23, 2003.

Killed in action near An Nasiriyah, leaving behind a widow, Janina, and four young children. "This time around I had this terrible feeling," says his mother, Donna Bellman, who had encouraged Bitz to join the Marines after a few aimless years after high school. "He loved the service and direction and purpose in his life."

Source: MSNBC/Newsweek

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Sgt. Michael E. Bitz.


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Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"Semper Fi devil dog ! Never Forgotten"
Paul B Kendrick of 37310

"Gone but NEVER forgotten. You live on in the memories and hearts of all those you have touched. We love you."
Ilea of Greeley, Colorado

"Always grateful."
Christin of Texas

"Memorial Day 2016--thanks to Michael for being there for so many. I recently visited JAX, NC where we were stationed. I am out of the military now but still in healthcare. Miracles do still happen and one can be when we are all together again."
Adam Hughes of Montgomery, AL

"Yat Yas brother Semper Fi"
Paul Kendrick, USMC of Cleveland, Tn

"Happy Memorial day Mike! Never forget!"
Tim of Chicago

"Thinking of you this Memorial Day Weekend!"
Brenda of Lima Ohio

"Dear Mike, it has all come back to me now. We spent a good amount of time at Camp Lejeune and attended school together on base. You as a person made a great impact on my life
See you in heaven one day Marine!"
Sergeant Noordhoorn of Suwannee, GA

"Hello son...been thinking about you a lot lately...your birthday on 2/14 and the twins on 2/21. Christian graduated high school last year and is now in college and doing very well. We have all missed you so very much.This time of year is hard for me especially as we come up on the anniversary of your passing. Our hearts are with you always...love you!!!"
Mom of CA

"Dear Mike,
It has been many years and I do not quite remember when we crossed paths in our Marine Corps career, but I know we did. Your name, your face and just a good feeling from a Godly person comes over me each time I hear, read or think about you. I hope to see you in heaven one day brother, so we can figure this out together. Oorah!"
Sgt. Noordhoorn of Suwannee, GA

"Mike, Wow I google your name here at work and I found this page. I never knew it existed. I am here reading all these massages left by people that love you so very much. I want to say that you too have touched my life. I remember having a few beers at the Whiskey Chuck at 29 Palms. Then the next day you reenlisted. After we got back to Pendleton I went on leave and you PCS'd to the east coast. Mike I had no idea what happened to you until 2004. When I found out through another Sgt at 2nd Tracks. I want you to know that you are not, and will never be forgotten. You always had a witty sense of humor about you and I don't think you were ever in a bad mood. You were a model Marine and I have to admit your reenlistment cermoney at the stumps I will always remember. Meanguy didn't think it was funny but I can promise you, we all though it was funny. Thank you Mike for everything."
Matt Kavanaugh of Jacksonville, NC

"Hey Mike, it's been a long time bud. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday you me and Ozzy were running our guys ragged until the late hours of the evening when we were all section leaders in MCM Platoon, 3rd AABN out in Del Mar, Camp Pendleton, CA. I also will never forget my surprise when I was checking in to 2nd tracks out at Courthouse Bay, Camp Lejuene, NC for the first time. I couldn't believe I was seeing you again! Seriously, what were the chances? I'll never forget how excited you were to catch up with me and gushing about your beautiful wife and the twins that she was due to deliver...the twins you never got to see. If the day comes when those children ever come across this message, I would just like to tell you that serving with your father in Camp Pendleton...and also in his final days in Iraq was an experience like no other. Not a day goes by where I don't think of the life he led and the example he gave of all that a man should aspire to be...a strong, caring, courageous and a compassionate leader who never failed to take care of his Marines and serve as a role model to all of us and a shining example of what all of us should strive to emulate. If ever there was a man truly deserving of the love respect and honor that has been bestowed upon him on these pages, Mike is that man. I miss you very much brother and I hope that the Lord has given you all the honor, love, comfort and joy that you shared with everyone who knew you while you were among us. It was truly an honor to have known you, worked along side of you, and fought with you on those last days together. Those of us who knew you best will never forget you, nor the great sacrifice you made that day sacrificing yourself on the altar of freedom so that others may have the hope of a brighter feature. Semper Fi Marine!"
MSG Aaron Steckman of Aliso Viejo, CA

"It is my wish your family has found peace and learned to smile when you enter their thoughts. I served in Cco 85' to 90, worked hard, played harder. YAT YAS brother!"
Ssgt Lesinring of York, Pa

"Sgt. Bitz,
On today, the 10th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country and to your fellow Marines. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Devil Dog and YAT YAS!"

"10 years today you crossed over into spirit...we miss you, your voice, your smile, your laughter and your big bear hugs...love you... love, Mom and your son Christian"
Donna of California

"It's just ironic...I was just sitting here and the name Recruit Bitz popped up in my head...he was the guy in the platoon(Platoon 2069 2nd Battalion Fox Company M.C.R.D. San Diego) that couldn't drill or PT and the platoon had to do a lot of pushups because of him...the drill instructors dropped him to special training company because they felt he wasn't ready...we didn't see him for about a month until one day with S.T.C. he was running a squad and calling the cadence....we all couldn't believe the transformation, the drill instructor stopped the platoon and gave him an OOHRAH!!!!! We went on to graduate and he a month later, but I couldn't help but be awed by the transformation from the guy that had the platoon constantly saying: "Thank you recruit Bitz." And his response: "No sweat recruits, no sweat!!!" To a man that exemplified what the Marine Corps does for a person that has J.J. D.I.D. T.I.E. B.U.C.K.L.E.(Marine Corps jargon).....OOHRAH Sgt. Bitz I thank you for the chance to have met you, seen change occur, and the service that you gave."
T. Jacques (Cpl. U.S.M.C. 1994-1999) of San Francisco,CA

"Sgt Bitz. I have no words to thank you for everything you did for me when I first got to C.Co. You were tough on me, but I understood. I still flashback to Iraq often, I remember hearing those words and my heart breaking. You are a true hero my friend. To your family, I'm very sorry for your loss. It breaks my heart to know that he never got to meet his children that were born while we were over there. I hope you have found peace with him gone. God Bless."
Landaker of Fairview Heights, Il

"It's awesome to come back here and see how many lives Michael touched! I miss him and think about him often."
Ilea Ulery of Greeley, Colorado

"I looked up Ssgt Blitz. I was attached to team tanks A co. In 2003. Task Force Tarawa. I remembered his name and heard his story at the time and is tattooed into my heart all these years.
He sacrificed his life to let others live. I've been through a lot since then. Two divorces, broke, so many loses. Every time I'm about to give up, I
think of him and his story pushes me to live life and be grateful for what I have nomatter how
hard I think things are. I didn't even personally know him but I refueled his amtrack plenty of
times. His memory keeps me alive and to strive
in life. Semper Fi. Staff sergeant. God bless u."
Edgar Omar Lozano of San Antonio, TX

"Happy Birthday Mike!"

"I remember Mike. He was a really great guy. Genuine and sincere. Nothing fake or mean about him and he was always willing to be a friend and talk. God Bless You Mike."
T of Texas

"8 and a half years! I think about you often Mike, we had a lot of fun. Remembering good old Onslow Bay, many times crashing out in my room while everyone was down at the ramp. Good times! Semper Fi brother!"

"I will never forget, out of all the faces and Marines I served with. Your name is stamped into my heart. Remember meeting you on one of our Marine Retreat get aways for families. I too was serving at the lovely Camp Lejeune NC. :) At the time I was having marriage problems, and you were like a brother to me. Opening your doors at 3 in the morning and fixing coffee to talk over my problems. Your were always there with a smile on your face. Cracking jokes. A brother I could trust and count on. Truely was one of the few and the proud. Love and miss you Always! Semper Fi Your fellow sister."
Little ole Lance Megahan of KY

"I didn't know you, but our brotherhood is in mourning when learning of a fallen marine, Godspeed, Semper Fi, and thanks for your service and sacrifice."
David Buckles, SGT of Marines of SLC, UT/USA

"Semper Fi Sgt. Bitz!"
Rob Reichner of Norfolk, VA

"Its hard to believe 8years have gone by. Your a true hero Bitz"
Sgt Rick Folz of Lima, Ohio

"Eight years Mike. Hard time of year brother. YAT YAS . Semper Fi"
Travis Neal CPL of Searsmont Maine

"with the 8 year aniversary of us losing a good Marine you are in our hearts and our prayers brother....SEMPER FI and YAT-YAS forever....OOHHHHHRAAAA"
Jason Jemelka of Scandia, MN

"Feb. 14, 2011.
Happy Birthday Sgt Bitz"
Arthur Evju of Santa Rosa, CA

"Life goes on, but you are never forgotten. I hope to see you again one day. until then, Semper Fi Mike and know that you live on in our hearts."
of Seattle

"I only met you and your family once at the last Batallion Christmas party. My husband served with you, and I know that March 23rd will NEVER be out of our memory. I live with a guilt that my husband is home with his children, yet your children are without you. It is hard for my husband as well, to know that he has lost so many good friends over there. God has a plan for us all though we may not understand right away what that may be. I pray for your children and widow, and I pray for your parents, and others who are affected by your death. Please know we thank you for your sacrifice and pray that you watch over all who are still serving. God bless your soul."
Kimberly Welch wife of SSgt. Robert Welch Jr. of La Grange, Texas USA

"Its Sept 26th 2010 its a little over 7 1/2 years since you went to be with Jesus. Thank you for being a major playing in introducing me to him. I know you cant hear this but I know my Lord and Savior , my father in Heaven hears. I am greatful for our time together and how that decision we both made Dec 6th 2001 to be baptised forever changed our lives and what he did in our lives, our hearts, our marriage was nothing short of a miricle in the short time He gave us. We turned our lives around, we had the wedding we never had, found out we were pregnant with the twins now 7 1/2 then you were preparing to deploy. You said this to me the day you go the call. Please dont be mad at me if I dont come Home" but this was not the first nor the last time you said those words to me or others. And the Lord opened up doors for us even during deployment. We got mail we others were not. We got calls when others did not. All in preperation for that day. Its 7 1/2 years later and we still talk about you, still look at your picture and even though you may not be here your always here and your life and journey helps us groom these children to the life you and i could have never dreamed of having but because its a life with Jesus "ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE""
Janina Bitz-Vasquez ( wife of Michael Bitz) of San Clemente, CA

"Hey Sgt. Bitz. It's been eight years ago since I saw you last. I will always remember our time in C Co. 2nd platoon. You were a brave Marine, and a man who loved his family. Semper Fi"
Cpl. Jason Miles of Portland, OR

"Just as a follow up to the my last post below, I would be happy to copy my photo of Mike as a PFC at the Nov. 10, 1995 Marine Corps Ball and send it to any family members who would like it.
My e-mail is: hesselaw@aol.com

YAT YAS!!!!"
David "Chris" Hesse of Amarillo, Texas

"I knew your son when we served together with 3rd AAV Btn in Del Mar Area, Camp Pendleton from 95 to when I left in 96 to go to school to become an officer. When I saw his picture, I instantly recognized him as an old friend. I believe he was in my Company (Charlie Company) before he joined MCM platoon, H&S Company. Just to make sure, I checked an old photo album of mine, and sure enough, I have a photo of old "Bitz" from our first Marine Corps Ball on November 10, 1995 in San Diego. I was a LCpl and he was a PFC. (For some reason he wore his Service Alphas instead of Dress Blues! He told us why he didn't have Dress Blues, but I can't recall now).

Just like earlier posts have said, Bitz would give you the shirt off his back. I don't think he had a mean bone in his body. I enjoyed hanging around with him and I am certain he was a great Marine leader as a Sergeant.

The day your son died, March 23, 2003, I was also in Iraq with 3rd AAV Btn, his old unit, as a Lieutenant. I got out of the Corps that summer, not knowing what happened to Mike. It greatly saddens me to find out today, February 28, 2010, almost 7 years after the fact, that my old friend Mike died back then.

Mike, I'm sorry your life was cutt short. You lived your life to the fullest! I'll see you when I reach my last duty station."
David "Chris" Hesse of Amarillo, Texas

"Michael...my Dad - your grandpa Bellman - passed away yesterday...I'm sure you were there to greet him...I love you...miss you...and Happy Birthday on Sunday..."
Mom and Christian

We served on the USS Ponce before you went out in 2003. There are a lot of memories I have of that time.
I remember praying with you the night before you went out on track.
I remember when your twins were born.
I remember that I had a friend in you when I needed it most.
I remember talking with you about your family after church services.
I especially remember how much you love them.
You've been an inspiration to me in your faith and your love for your family
For some reason I googled you today and found this web sight. I'm glad I did. God bless you brother and thanks,"
Sgt. Jarrid Stairs of Livingston, IL

"Mike and I served together in MCM PLT 3rd AABN. I'm glade to see how many people respected him. This last weekend we had a small reunion of fellow MCM PLT. members. As we sat and talked about other members SGT. Bitz came up and we all gave him a proper salute. I'm proud to say that I served with Sgt. Bitz. He will always be in my memories.

James Proctor CPL USMC 94-98 of Boise, Idaho

"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 Worthington, OH USA

"I am sorry for you loss and am sorry that I have just come across the Memorial. I knew your son. We were friends when we were in the Marines from 1995-1997 and stationed at McM Platoon 3rd AABN BTN Camp Delmar, Camp Pendleton. Great guy. Always knew how to make all of us smile. A man who truly had one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen. You will be missed Bitz. OOHRA SEMPER FI!!! YAT YAS!!!"
Lcpl Tarl D Fruge of Fridley,Mn, USA

"Semper Fi...

I think about you often."
Robert Reichner, fellow MCM platoon member of Norfolk, VA

"Another Memorial Day Weekend, 'Chance' We all miss you. As for me, You are constantly in my thoughts, Friend, Hero, Extension of my family."
Jim Greer of Wilmington, NC

"Sgt Bitz 3/23/03-3/23/09 its been six long years , and you have been in our thaught's and our world since.
Semper Fi Brother CPL neal"
Travis Neal CPL of Searsmont Maine

Six years ago today you made your transition. It still seems so very odd not to hear from you or see you. We truly miss you and talk about you a lot. You were a big part of our lives and continue always to be. I wish you could spend time with Christian - you would be so amazed at his growth and maturity. We love you...Love"
Mom and Christian

GySgt Jones P.M. of CLNC Courthouse bay

"Sgt. Bitz,
We miss you brother. We'll never forget 03/23/03 for the rest of our days. It was an honor fighting with you."
Cpl Martin, J.B. USMC 2AABN ACO of North Olmsted OH

Here it is Veterans Day again. I've been thingking about you so much lately. It's really hard on days like these. I'm sure you are so very proud of Christian - he has grown so much - now taller than I am and becoming quite the young man. He's still doing great in school and very active in sports and now goes to the gym. He looks so much like you more and more and his personality is more like you all the time. Its truly amazing to watch him. So many times watching him takes me back to you when you were that age. I'm so thankful that Christian is so much like you - I feel like he is all I have left of you and to care for him and watch him grow up is such an honor. I truly treasure and appreciate the opportunity to have this time with him. We love you and miss you so very much!!!"

"I was thinking of you today. Your on my mind often, and I have your pics on my myspace. So many nights I've wished we hadn't lost touch, wondering where our lives would have been had we not... I wear your dog tag on a silver chain around my neck every day in honor of you. Your on my mind and in my heart always..."
Ilea Ulery of Greeley, Co USA

"Sgt. Bitz would give you the shirt off his back and the last dollar in his pocket and never expect anything in return. We loved him as an NCO. He always had time to listen to your problems. He cared for his family deeply. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and Cpl. Chuck. I miss you. Yat-Yas"
Cpl. Chris Garrett, 2nd AA Btn. of White Pine, TN


"Semper Fi, my brother. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and your sacrifice. You are a real hero. I attended the dedication of the school named in your honor at Camp Lejeune. Our fellow AMTRACERS did you right. I never met you but I know you. I helped carry you into the morgue in Kuwait and I promise you that I will never ever forget you.
Semper Fi and YATYAS."
LtCol Tom Leonard USMC, Retired of North Topsail Beach, NC

"Sgt Bitz, on this Memorial day weekend, I salute you."
R. Reichner of Kalamazoo, MI

"Sgt Bitz
I was prond to be apart of your memorial at 2d AABn. You are my Hero. You are truely one of the few and the proud. Sgt Rick Folz H&S Comm. Plt."
Rick Folz of Lima, OH

"I never called you Mike, or Sgt Bitz, I called you "Chance". You worked for me out in the world outside of Camp Lejeune. That's not right you were employed by me, but you were more than an employee. You were like a son, or younger brother. You were a great dear friend. With an infectious laugh and a smile for everyone. I was telling a lady friend about you the other day. Now she misses you too, even though you never met. Janina, and your children should be proud of you my friend. Your mom whom I met at your memorial service at Courthouse Bay should be proud of you, every person in this country should be proud of you Chance. I know every person that ever met you in Coconutz is proud of you. I know that I am proud to have been able to have known you, to be able to have called you friend. God Bless You My Friend! Your sacrifice was not in vain. Semper Fi Chance Semper Fi."
Jim Greer of Jacksonville, NC, USA

"Just wanted to say that my daughter goes to the school named after you and she likes it. I have read about you in many books and online and on the school wall. My husband is in 2nd AABN just like you. YAT-YAS for life!"
Leslie Owen of Camp Lejeune, NC

"2/14/08 - Happy Birthday! You would have been 36 today. We wish you much happiness, joy and love as you continue your journey in Spirit...Love you always..."
Mom and your son Christian

"Just thinking of you."
SGT Mike deSanno of Ft Drum NY

"Michael, it's Christmas once again. We sure have missed you greatly. Christian is doing wonderful and an A student in school, but you must already know that. We talk about you all the time as Christian takes after you more and more, in looks, personality and character. You are much loved and honored in our home. We love you! Merry Christmas..."
Mom & Christian

"Hey Mike its me Gary, Not that i need to tell you. I just want you to know what I never got to tell you and that was that even through the hard times we helped each other through you above anyone else showed me waht it meant to be a Marine I was hoping to get together and reconnect when we got back but that never came I remember holding you kids and seeing you anyway you are sorely missed my friend may god allow you the peace in death that we can never achieve in life I still see you in my dreams you were in all aspects my friend,mentor and a loved one. Semper devil."
Gary Martin of Conneaut, Ohio

"Micheal may you rest in peace. I never had the opportunity to meet you, however i have had the privilege to have met your wife and children... (don't get me wrong my ex-wife used to babysit for Janina) and I must say they are adorable and loveable indeed...I know u are up there watching over your family so bless their hearts. I had the opportunity to get deployed to Iraq twice during my service with the Marines (FO) but now serving at the State Department i still think highly of each of everyone of you Marines, and thank you for your hard work & dedication. Semper Fidelis

Jay Saldana of Washington, DC.

I remember the Christmas that we spent together.I still keep the gifts close to me.I also remember the times you brought Christen to my house.You'll always be close to my heart and I love you always and miss you forever."
Heather Baird of Frisco Texas

"I met you in Oceanside,Ca befor your first child was born. I decided to search for you with the dog tag you gave me, now its all I have of you. I wish we could have kept in touch. I will miss you, and think of you often."
Ilea Ulery of Greeley, Co

"I miss you"

"Mike, I served with you at 2nd Tracks Charlie Co, 2nd Plt. We went on float with the 24th MEU in the summer of 01'. Its been a while since we spoke but I think about you and the guys in our platoon all the time. Thank you for being a good friend and a great marine. We all are in you debt. I will never forget you and the times we served together. I will see again. Rest in peace brother."
Josh Hunziker, SSgt USMC (joshhunziker@gmail.com) of Tampa, FL/USA

"Remembering with you the life of someone so dear."
Shirley Billingsley of Huntsville, AL

"May 28, 2007 (Memorial Day)
To the family of Michael E. Bitz. 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"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Sgt. Bitz,
We went on the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit together On the Carter Hall in the Summer of 2001. After that it seemed that no matter where I deployed your familiar face was always nearby. Though I didn't have the pleasure of knowing you personally, I will always remember your face and the way you carried yourself. I am here to offer my personal thanks to you and give my best regards to your family."
Sergeant Jones of Houston, TX

"In Albany NY on 3-18-07, Micheal Bitz will be remembered along with other fallen soldiers in a "Remember The Fallen - Stop The Wars" Peace Walk (www.rememberingthefallen.org). I'll be holding a sign with his name. Our efforts are to see that no more young men such as Sgt. Bitz die in this senseless war that only benefits Oil Companies and War profiteers. I hope that our efforts for peace & justice bring some comfort to the families of the 3,200 + US soldiers & hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died."
Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa, NY

of 847-275-3168

"Sgt. Bitz, I remember the get together we had at my house before we went on our MED cruise in 01. You, your wife, and new born were there. It was some other Devil Dogs from our platoon, but you stuck out. Maybe because you and I were the only married ones there. Hey man, you will always be remembered, and I'll always be your DOC...

Doc Jackson of Gurnee, IL

"This man was amazing."
Robert Reichner, former fellow Amtracker 3D AAVBN H&S CO MCM PLT of Michigan


It's 9 November, 2006 and I am writing a a Veterans Day message to deliver to my church and was thinking of you. I remember you from our old Third Tracks days and when we met again at Second Tracks. I remember our discussions on faith at Rich's house. Your laugh and sincerity as we recounted old stories and talked of our families. I remember how I shook your hand and told you to be safe and careful as we went to war. I can never forget the tears that came to my eyes and the heavy feeling on my heart as our unit approached and I found out the news of your passing. I will never forget you.
I will see you on the other side someday but until then I will continue to lead and take care of my Marines.
God Bless and Semper Fi! from your brother in christ."
Capt. Jason Lacis of Belcamp, MD

"It is great that he will never be forgotten, I remember him talking about becoming a movie star or a model . He never wanted to be forgotten, he wanted to be remembered and famous. He was an amazing person, and he will never be forgotten and our family thanks all of you who continue on the memory and continue on living for he knew there was a greater life, beyond this one, we will see him a again in the next life. This month Oct 2006 his memory lives on as a Intermediate School is being forever named after him. Thankyou comrades of his, he enjoyed being with you all, he spoke highly of you all and never seen the worst in any of you and believed in you all"
janina bitz-vasquez ( wife of) of Quantico VA

"It's Sep, 2006. There has not been a sigle day since March 23, 2003 that I have not though about you and the rest of our fallen brothers. Each day that I go about my daily duties, I think about you. I can still remember seeing you standing in front of me in Kuwait just before the war. I can still see and hear you in my mind those times you were next to me on top of the amtracs in Camp Lejeune during live firing exercises before the war. I wish the entire Bitz family the best. You and your sacrifises will never be forgotten."
Sgt. Arroniz of Camp Lejeune, NC

"5 years ago Sgt. Bitz and I were on a ship together. We were "liberty buddies" when we were allowed to dock. Today is Sept. 11, 2006."
Adam Hughes of Montgomery, AL

"Sgt Bitz I remember when you first came into the Corp. You were always a motivated Marine. You helped me make it through alot. You will be missed."
Lcpl Phillip Tavegia of Riverside, California

"On behalf of my son Michael I wish to thank all who come to his site and read/write the messages. It's been wonderful seeing how many people have supported us during the past 3 years. On behalf of his family, we are all very greatful and appreciate all the prayers and messages. I would like to mention to those who may be interested about the spirit world to please read Betty Eadie's books in order "Embraced by the Light", "The Awakening Heart" and "The Ripple Effect: Our Harvest" all truly incredible books. "Embraced by the Light" is an account of her near death experience and what she experienced in the Spirit World before she returned to the physical world. The Awakening Heart" expands even further on her experience, and goes into more detail about our mission and purpose while on earth. "The Ripple Effect: Our Harvest" reveals many peoples' near death experiences which correlate to her experience in addition to the ripple effects of our actions good or bad while in our physical life. But most importantly, the unconditional love that God has for all of us. That's the type of love we all should have for each other. It's a choice and we all have freedom of choice within ourselves.

May God's Love and Blessings be with you always!"
Michael's Mom

"Sgt Bitz

I miss you."
Maj Ralph Croce, USMC Retired of Stafford, VA

"hey mike, just wanted to let you know i was thiking about you and chuck. i miss you. i know your in a better place. i'll see you again one day. talk to you later"
Sgt Eric Ives of iveseric@msn.com

"michael sends his children blessings: nothing is lost forever, what's retained in love returns in love"
anon of us

"My heart goes out to your family. May your children know your sense of duty and nobility. YAT-YAS, bro."
anonymous of usa

"Michael, today is the 3rd anniversary of your passing. I can't say it makes it any easier. Every year at this time even Christian is moody and irritable. I don't think he realizes why, but I know, and I just try to help him through it. We miss you and love you!
Much love always,"

"Our "anniversary" is coming up and I want you to know he will always be in my mind and in the stories i tell, he was my brother and always will be"
Sgt Jeremy Donaldson of Camp Lejeune

"I currently work at Berkeley Manor Elementary School at Camp Lejeune, NC and was just informed that our new intermediate school has been named after Sgt. Bitz. I had never heard of Michael and wanted to learn more. I went to the website and read the wonderful testimonies. I just want his family to know that I am honored to be going to the new school with Michael's name. Our Marines were truly blessed to have a comrade such as Sgt. Bitz. Thank you Michael for your service."
Betty Hampton of Camp Lejeune, NC

"Happy Earth Birthday Michael. I love you!!!!"

"Hi, Michael....
You have been on my mind so much, more so than usual, perhaps because it's getting close to your birthday. I miss you so much. Christian is doing well and getting ready to start another season of soccer. He has grown so much, it won't be long and he'll be taller than I am. He looks more and more like you all the time, even his personality and character. I wish to take this time to thank everyone for their messages regarding my son. I love coming to the site and reading new messages that have been added.

Michael...we love you very much and miss you even more......"
Mom of California

"In your honor and with gratitude to you, Michael Edward Bitz., I’ve planted a daffodil in your name, as have others across the country as part of Project LIVE ON, a program I founded to memorialize each U. S. military who has died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thousands of beautiful daffodils will come up each Spring, and, like your spirit, will LIVE ON...and ON. Blessings to you, the family, as you grieve, and heal. For details, please contact projectliveon@aol.com. Jan. 22, 2006."
Gretchen Forbes of the northcentral mountains of Pennsylvania

"I have planted a daffodil for you Michael, along with 50 other bulbs to represent other soldiers that have died in Iraq. Your flower will be seen every year and your sacrifice remembered. Projectliveon@aol.com"
Ruth Anderson of Mountain View, California

I was reading an old copy of the Navy Times and read the citation for your poshthumous Silver Star. I would like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. You showed what a true Marine NCO is supposed to be-despite being wounded already, you stayed in the fight to help your fellow Marines when you could have been medevaced.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!"

"I was with Lance Corporal Bitz when I was in MCM platoon. We were really new. We were even on the same "hog" together, for a while. I remember him so vividly. He was a strong man, and a good Marine. Some made fun of the way talked, but I did not.

I remember in formation one day, he had heard that his first children were being born and I saw him say, "OH MY GOD, My wife is having a baby!!!!!" he soon left....He then brought them back for all of us to see. He was competitive too. I remember him saying that he was gonnna beat me on doing more MCI's (correspondence courses) than me....

I was on MSG duty when I saw in a message that he had gotten picked up for recruiter duty. I was like wow, he's doing a B-billet too....! I dont know how he fared.

I was in Kosovo when the Iraq war started. I was in the Army then, as an MP, as a reservist, I had a 4 day pass to Bulgaria. I watched in amazement on CNN as I saw an AAV completely destroyed. I prayed I knew none of the Marines' in it. When I got back to duty, I saw his name in Stars and Stripes. I knew of no other Michael Bitz than him, especially one in the Marines.

Today is Veterans day, 2005, and I wanted to say that although our paths last crossed over 8 years ago. I will remember you each day, and I often think about you. I shed a tear on your death today, Marine, and I think often of your family......Ggood luck in heaven, may you keep head high, guarding those streets.

Semper Fidelis, now and Forever-see you soon Mike, and no making fun of me joining the Army!!!!"
Robert E Reichner, SGT USMC 94-01, SGT US ARMY RESERVE, 01-05 of Waterford, MI

"I was with Sgt Bitz in recruiters school we were in the same group. Although I am deaf now I can still hear his opening to his speeches and his laugh. He left and endelible mark on me at recruiters school we lughed together and we said this is going to suck together. I will always remember when I saw his picture how the grief overcame me as this hit close to home this was a friend not just a picture. I pray for all fallen Marines family and wish you the best. "All gave some, and some gave All. Semper Fi and rest well weary Marine."
SSgt Stephen C Hitchcock (Former 1991 - 2002) of Joliet, Illinois

"My name is Michael r. deSanno, I new mike prior to him joining the Marines, I went through Boot Camp with him and to his first wedding. I am deeply saddend that this has happened and hope you and your children will make it through it all."
SGT deSanno, Michael R. of Fort Drum, NY

"Thank you so very much!!!"
Michael of Alabama

"Sgt. Bitz was a good friend and a good marine. I was new to to the unit. I was a grunt attached to Sgt. Bitz AAV. He always made me fell like a close friend even though he really did not now me. He was a good man and a good marine. He will be missed. Semper Fi Sgt. Bitz."
Cpl. McManus

"Dear Michael,
Even though we never had the honor of meeting you, we want to thank you for your selfless contribution to preserving our freedom and safety. You'll always be in our hearts and minds You will never be forgotten.
You are truly our Archangel, Michael
God Bless you and your entire family."
Debbie Coslov of Lutz, Florida USA

"hey Mike, just checkin in on ya and droppin a line to say hi, and that we all miss you. we think about you everyday. you know its still hard after all this time, it always will be. i miss our conversations down at the ramp and on the trac."
Ives of NJ

"Hey Snugglybear theres not a day I don't think about you or talk about you.
The kids are doing great, well finally one of your dreams is becoming a reality. The conference brought 14 acres for our Church Aletheia however we need help to clear the land. You were one of Gods workers and devoted servants I pray he will send workers to forfill your dream of finally Aletheia having its own building which the fellowshipHall is going to named after you. Very befitting considering you inhaled instead of chewed. "Are you going to eat that?" I must get that sign made for the fellowship hall.
If anyone is able to help whom reads this please contact Pastor Steve Kowalski at 910-346-8561
I will never stop loving you nor how could when everyday I see you in the eyes of our children
Love now still and always and forever
janina bitz- wife of Sgt Michael Bitz-Silver Star recipient of jacksonville,NC

"I am SSgt Coston, Sgt Bitz (Then a PFC) was my crewman when I was a Corporal, in MCM Platoon 3rd AABN. I never saw him again until he came to 2nd AABN, and I was getting ready to leave to go on Security Force's duty. I remember him as being eager to learn everything the Track (AAV)can do and what the MK154 Line charge was all about. I pray for his family and love ones."
SSgt Chad M. Coston of Jacksonville, NC - Delta Co. 1st Plt. 2nd AABN

"Semper Fi!"
Steve of Mapleton, ND

As I read all these posts here I am happy that you were loved by so many. When I was on my ship and just happened to glance up and see your name on the list of KIA I went into shock. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would never get the chance to laugh with your wife over dinner about sme of our stunts. I never had the pleasure of meeting your wife or your children, but I will always remember you for the 6 months we spent deployed together. Man, did we get into a lot of strange fixes, from rescuing a drunk marine from drowning in Spain, to you thinking (rightly so ) that I was too drunk to be dancing on that bar in Turkey and dropping me on my head. The memories are wonderful and I miss you so much. I always thought that there would be time to get to know your family and get in touch with you after that cruise .. I am so sad to say there wasn't time and heartbroken that I got too busy to just call and say 'hi'. There is so much I have wanted to say and this is just a piece of it. I do hope your family looks me up as I have some wonderful photos I think they would enjoy. I know how much you loved the marines, and I know you were loved back by them. I hope that your family is as comforted by this site as I am. Your sacrifice was so typical of you and I miss you my friend. My heart and best wishes go out to the whole Bitz family.
for any who wish to contact me"
sheryl hunter of Tampa, FL

"Happy Father's Day Michael, we love and miss you very much!
Mom and Christian"
of Oxnard, CA

"My last Salute!
Bro, I am deeply saddened by the news I received today. I will hold the memories
we shared for the short 3 1/2 years while serving together in M/CM, 3rd AABN, with a lot more respect and gratitude than before. Sleep well brother! Semper Fi!

SGT D. "Godfather" Schwarz, USMC"
of San Diego, CA

"Michael: I know you are now one of our Angels in heaven watching over us and especially your brothers serving for our country. As my son gets ready for possible deployment in September it gives me comfort to know that you and all of our "HEROES" will be watching over him. My sincere condolences to your family."
Liz of Port Washington, NY U.S.A

"It is an honor to say "thank you" for the sacrifice your Marine made. My son is currently awaiting graduation from the SOI at Camp Geiger and he expects deployment in the late summer. As a mother my heart is filled with emotion for all of your family. May God bless you and it is my hope that His Peace will be with you.
Catherine Dozier"
Catherine Dozier of Columbia,SC

"Rest in peace brother, we now have the watch."
REV of Camillus, NY

"I knew Sgt. Bitz and saw him on a daily basis in Kuwait.I served with him in Iraq in the same company under Capt. Blanchard and Camp Lejeune in the same Battalion. God bless all our fallen comrades and god bless Sgt.Bitz and his family. There has no been a single day that has gone by that I have not thought about Sgt. Bitz and the rest of our fallen comrades. You will never be forgotten."
Sgt. Uriel Arroniz of Santa Maria, Ca

"My name is Capt Brian Dibb, USMC. I was Sgt Bitz's Platoon Commander for a year or two when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA, back in 1998-99. Let me tell you about him a little bit.
First off, he cared very much for his Marines. That, you could count on. He did every thing he thought he could for them. I knew that he would fight for them, to no end. He was also sort of funny in a unique way. Not, sure how to put it, but he always wasn't too fast on his feat - reaction wise.
I remember once, we were on Red Beach, doing a rehearsal for an amphibious breach. We were the Mobility/Counter Mobility Platoon for 1st Marine Division. We were the only ones out there... or so I thought. I'm putting together my 'sand table' diagram of what we should look like. I look up and see a bunch of shiny boots. I know these aren't any of my Marines, enough said. As my eyes pan up I see stars and eagles - That's Generals and Colonels for those of you not in the military. Its, then, BGen Hagee (he's now Commandant of the Marine Corps). He's says 'They call me Hagee' (I chose to call him 'Sir'). Sgt Bitz is standing there by me and I tell him to gather the platoon for the brief. He just sort of stands there, as dumb-stuck as me. I ask him again, then realize I have to have a LCpl do it. It went great and Sgt Bitz made the rehearsal look great for the General and his staff who had 'snuck' up on us on the beach.
I also recall that in the field, at 29 Palms, the Marines gave each other call signs. His was 'Corky'. He took it well and gave some of the 'kids' nicknames that need not be repeated here.
Point is, he took it well and gave it back 10 times over. He cared about his Marines then, and did In An Nasiriya. I was not there beside him but wish I was.
He was caught in 'RPG Alley' with a bunch of other Marines when he wounded, the first time. He was hit by shrapnel as he fought his way through. It tore out a lot of his back, yet he was fighting as he was pulling other injured Marines out (pardon my spelling as my eyes begin to well up at this point). He got a bunch back to the AAVs and was in the process of medevac'ing them and being medevac'ed himself. The AAVs (amphibious assault vehicles) he was in was destroyed and all were lost. There was no chance for any of them, but I know Sgt Bitz was sitting next to a young Marine, encouraging him to hold on because it would be OK.
He was recently awarded the Silver Star Medal, one that the Marine Corps holds dearly and rarely awards. I have no doubt that no Medal, award, or accolade is beyond his deserving. But I also know that no award, medal or accolade would be of greater importance to him than the peace and solace that he was able to impart to his Marines throughout his career and in those final, awful, hours.
I think of him every day. Those of us that knew him talk about him often. He was the embodiment of everything good and honorable, and I pray for his children every day. May they turn out to be like their father who is guarding the streets of Heaven for our Father looking down on us now. As I've heard him say, YAT-YAS (You Ain't Tracks, You Ain't....).
See you again, my friend."
Brian Dibb of Anti-Terrorism Base, Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, Africa

"To the friends and family of Michael E. Bitz:
Your loved one will forever hold a place in so many American hearts! I too lost a loved one in Iraq. My husband Spc Justin W. Linden was KIA on June 4, 2004. I could never describe how greatful I am for Michael's sacrifice and I thank you for yours. God bless you all!"
Sarah Linden of Portland, OR USA

"You are sorely missed."

"To Micheal may you rest in peace. I never had to the chance to meet you how ever i have had that pleasure of watchin your children grow up over the last year and I must say they are adorable and loveable...i know u are up there watching over your family ...RIP"
Sonia of Jacksonville, NC

"I remember first hearing about your death. A number of us with the Bitz name began checking out to see if we might be related. We did find the link and felt a great grief. I came to realize that you are a first cousin to several people I know. I feel for your wife with your three children from this marriage and your child from a previous marriage. May she & they continue to find the strength they need. I also feel for your mother and your father and pray for both of them.

Now there is another Bitz looking for relatives. He is fairly closely related to you so I am referring him to this website."
Margaret Bitz of Fargo, ND

"RIP Marine"
Petty Officer Cawthon of RTC Great Lakes, IL

"Michael, you are a very special person and will always have a place in my heart. I always drive by your old place and think about the times we spent together and the sacrifis you made. I am only sorry that I didn't find out about it sooner. This weekend (memorial day) I will think of you and remember you."
Brenda of Oceanside, Ca

"Michael, It's been over a year now, yet the pain and grief I feel is still so very strong. I don't think I'll ever get over losing you, unlike others who have moved on already. I think about you all the time and still so many memories come to mind of your growing up years. No one could have ever loved you more than I, as a mother's love is unconditional, and the loss of you rips so much deeper into my soul. A wife can so easily replace her husband, but a mother can never replace her son. I miss you so very much Michael. I've loved you since the day you were born on Valentine's Day 1972. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I know you feel our love around you. Christian looks and acks so much like you, he has been doing so well. I know you'd be proud of him. You sould see the corner of his room, filled with your pictures, medals, etc. He is very protective of them all and wants a bigger room to put up more. Christian and I love you and miss you so very much. I wish to take this time to thank everyone for all they have done and all the kind words, thoughts and prayers. Semper Fi - my son!"
Michael's Mother - Donna M. Bellman of Oxnard, CA

"My husaband was in the same battle,not to far from yours. I still remember when the report came in about the track, and they did know who had died. It was hard what us wives went through. The not knowing. I am deeply sorry for what happend. I also remember meeting you. none of us expecting it would happen to us. I hope for the best with you and your family."
DC of Jacksonville, NC

"To the Family of Sgt. Bitz,

It is with a heavy heart that I write these words to you and other family members of Marines who have fallen. I come from a long family line of Marines; I too am a Marine Corps veteran. His service to his Country and his Corps will live forever in the minds of his fellow Marines all over this country.

While I never personally met this Marine, every Marine is my brother and it is with love and respect to his family that I say to them the words of retired GySgt Ermey, "The Marine Corps lives forever, and that means you live forever."

God Bless and Semper Fidelis"
Rob of Iowa

You were and are the best guy I ever knew. You were always trying help every one you knew, when stationed at Camp Delmar on Camp Pendlton. You were such a great friend. You always made me laugh and smile.I know all the guys looked up to you! No matter how bad things seemed, you helped me and every one around you to see they werent as bad as we thought. I will for ever miss your friendship and you willingness to help a friend. Thank you for fighting for our freedom, our protection. You will always be my Hero!!! I am so saddened to have learned that you passed, left behind such a great family. I am greatful for you finding happiness,love, and their love for you before you passed.I will pray for all of you every day. I am just sorry we lost contact. I wish I could have seen and met your new family and new found happiness. You were truley the best friend and man I had ever known. Thank you for that gift. You will be missed and remebered for ever! May GOD bless you all!"
Holly Burch/ Putnam of Escondido, Ca United States

"To Remember Them..In loving Memory..Its been a year..

At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, We remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn, We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
Rest in Peace Dear Soldier! We will NEVER FORGET!"
The Grogan Family of Lakeland, TN

"It's been one year bro..... The pain isn't any easier. You'll never be forgotten.

Semper Fi"
Sgt E of Camp Lejeune, NC

"We Will NEVER FORGET !" As the first anniversary of the death of your loved one arrives;
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering all your family and loved ones 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. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"To Michael, even though I never got to meet you, I will miss you very much. To Janina, stay strong and brave."
Kristal Bitz- Sgt. Michael Bitz's sister of Mandan,ND

"Sergeant Bitz, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Seeing this Marines face on this list hurts, I served with him in Camp Lejeune."
Sgt B Holliday of Greenville, NC

""To the Family and Friends of Sgt. Michael E. Bitz,

They call it “the ultimate sacrifice” giving one’s own life so that others may live in a free country. I am saddened by Michael’s death. I know that I, as well as other Americans, have so much today because of the “ultimate sacrifices” made by people like Michael. I will think of Michael often and I will try to live my life as courageously as he did his.

A very grateful American"
John of California

"I would like to say Happy Birthday (Feb. 14)I know your up there! You were a good man and you are a hero. Thankyou! May you rest in peace. My condolences to your wife and kids."
Lulu G. of Oxnard, CA USA

"Sgt. Bitz and I never met. Despite that fact, I shall grieve for him as I grieve for the men I did know personally. We both served the same Corps. He is my fallen younger brother. We Marines are a family, and the loss of one is a loss to us all. My prayers go out to his wife and children.
May the mercy of God Almighty touch and guide you through these days of sorrow, and far beyond, in the years to come.
May His kindness surround your family and assure you that Michael will not be forgotten as long as Marines exist.
May your memories of Michael be sweet and inspiring for you and your children.
Sgt. Javier Cascos, USMC, - Inactive (Once, and Always a Marine) of Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA


"Thank you Michael Bitz, 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

"My thoughts & prayers go out to all the Military men and women who are at war and especially those who have lost their lives. May God bless you forever. Thank you for everything, you are my hero! Rest in peace."
Amanda K Casas of San Diego, Tx

"On 11/05/03 I ordered a bracelet that would have the name of a soldier killed during the war. I had no preference, I just wanted to wear one to show my support for the soldiers and their families who fought for our country and paid the ultimate price. Being a former soldier myself I thought it was the right thing to do. Today on 11/8/03 I received my bracelet..... with the name Michael E. Bitz USMC. Since putting it on I have looked at it constantly and thought of the man's name and who he was. I decided that I needed to find out something about him. I discovered this site and some other articles about him. Now I have seen his picture and know a little about him. I will wear it with pride and will always have him and his family in my thoughts and prayers, as I will with all of the soldiers who have fallen and those who still fight on.It is strange how a small piece of metal with the name of a stranger can affect you. I will always proudly carry the memory of him with me."
Paul Broxson of Ft. Walton Beach, FL

"thankyou michael, i love you and miss you and you know that as you watch over us everyday and thankyou everyone for your kind words"
janina bitz- wife of sgt Michael Bitz of jacksonville,NC

"I knew Sgt Bitz, and he truly had the heart of a lion. He will be missed."
SSGT Hyatt of Camp Lejeune, NC

"Janina, Joshua, Christian, Caleb and Taylor...you are in our thoughts and prayers everyday. We loved Mike like a brother for so long, he will be truly missed. He is our hero and he will allways be remembered as that.
Love..Christy, Ken, Joshua, Rachel and Jarod Krawczyk"
Christy Krawczyk of Vian, OK

"Dear Friends and Families Of Sgt Bitz and all who passed, honoring the U.S. and the rest of the World. My name is Gregory Groff I served with Sgt.Bitz for about 2 years he was a dedicated man who loved the marine corps his country and his family, He was very unselfish when it came to anything, he would help anybody, anytime and anywhere, Good luck to the Bitz, Family you will forever be in my prayers.
Gregory R. Groff USMC Semper fiedelis"
Gregory Groff of Zion Illinois

"To the Family and Friends of Sgt. Michael E. Bitz,

As for me and my house, your son and his bravery has meant a lot to us. We call him HERO! He will not be forgotten!

Prayerfully Yours,
The Sibert Family,
Proud Military Family in Southern California"
Kathleen V. Sibert of Redondo Beach, California

"Our prayers are with your family during this difficult time. Thank you brave soldier, your courage and sacrifice will nerver be forgotten."
Ken and Maritza Holley of Pembroke Pines, Florida

"I would just like to say that i appreciate what this man has done for freedom for people he didnt know like myself and for that I am truly grateful"
Jonathan Millard of TN

"My husband is a fellow Marine Corps Sergeant serving in the same unit as SGT. Bitz. It is an honor to say that they worked together at some point in time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends today and always. God Bless our Heroes and God Bless America."
The Rohr Family of Camp Lejeune, NC

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Michael Bitz:
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 Bitz:
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

"I came across this web sight on fallen heroes by chance and it has so moved me that I feel compelled to leave a note for each family who has lost a loved one in this war. The pictures and bios are heartbreaking. I hope each family will have some comfort in the fact that many Americans truly appreciate the sacrifice their loved one has made. No words are adequate enough to express thanks from this grateful American. May God grant you the comfort you need right now. Thank you Michael."
Terri Curtis of Green Forest, Arkansas

"I found this page in search of information regarding the fall of "Michael Bitz" because I had an old buddy in high school of the same name. They turn out to be different people, but while I was here, I wanted to leave mention. Reading just the first few lines about the life of this "other" Mike, I realized that I might as well have known him, and I was moved with sorrow. This is no ordinary thing; the feeling was quite sudden and strong - entirely unexpected - and I hope the result is that someone's burden somewhere is lightened. The loss is real, it is shared."
Jeff of New York, NY

"Thank you Sergeant. We pray for your family and may you rest in peace in beautiful heaven...."
The Taylors, USMC of NC

"Thank you for allowing your hero to protect our freedoms!"
Holly of Ch'ville,VA

"Thank you for your sacrifice"
Ginger Smith & Family of Hillsboro, In

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