Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Cifuentes

25, of Fairfield, Ohio.
Cifuentes died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Force Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). Died on August 3, 2005.

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May we honor the lives of those who have fought for our freedom with the way we choose to live our own, I was chosen because of a very close friend who served with the 48 Marines and Corpsmen who sacrificed it all; to read each story, to get to know a small piece of their lives through families and friends. I chose to honor each of them with a bible verse:

Michael J. Cifuentes 8/3/05
"They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side." - 2 Chronicles 15:14-15 (Eagerness)"
Haleigh Kilgore of West Virginia

"Mike nappers number"

"I went to high school with Mike. At that time, I mainly kept to myself, I guess as a lot of teenagers do. Mike was quite popular, and I always had a good impression of him; he was always very cheerful and outgoing and just had a dignity and inner decency one picked up on. If I had been a bit more open, we might have become friends. He was in a few of my Spanish classes and I remember him always being ready for class. And then after some time, we all graduated, and I went to college in another state. Life moved on. And then, one summer day eight years later when I was back home for a spell, I went downstairs at my parents' house, picked up the Enquirer and saw the faces of fifteen young men on there. I instantly knew that these young men had lost their lives in Iraq, and in that same moment Mike's face, somewhat thicker and stronger, distinguished itself from the others I had not known- and this although I had not seen him in eight years. What a sad day.
Mike was the kind of guy that, if I had had at any point had the good fortune to run into him downtown, would have greeted me heartily and treated me like we had been good friends all along. That I did not know Mike as well as I could have is one of my regrets. I think of him more often than one might suppose from our acquaintance, which was not as deep as I wish it had been.
I remember Mike, and always will! Thank you to his parents, family, and friends for helping to make him the good man he was."
Tim of Cincinnati, Ohio


"Before I had my chance to enter basic I had the privilege of meeting you, Dustin, Mark, and Ssgt Hicks at the holiday inn in Columbus. We ended up at Merry Melody`s and had a night of pool and good times. I am now stateside and back in GC where Bernholtz and I are from and will never forget how much more I wanted to be a Marine because of you. Rest well brother...I made a point while in Helmand prov to target the cowards with i.e.ds...once again thanks mike you are one intelligent inspirational Marine...Semper Fidelis"
Cpl. Bradley Williams 3/1 Kilo co. of Grove city Ohio

"Michael, Its me your cousin. we never got to spend much time together but I love you and I miss you. I Remember when you would substitute my classes and give me pop. Losing you has been hard on everybody. I want to thank you for the work you did to protect everyone. I love you my marine<3"
Kaley of Oxford OH USA

"7 years...still thinking of you and those you left behind. Thank you for your courage and service. Semper Fi."
LC of NJ

"I am thinking of your family today, as well as the families of the 13 other Marines killed on 8/3/05. My prayers are with you, that God gives you peace and comfort today and every day. (My son was with the 3/25 at that time as a member of H&S Company in Brookpark, Ohio. He served at Haditha Dam and Hit.)"
Penny Grothjan Norris of Medina, Ohio

"My son, Tom, graduated with Michael from St. Xavier High School in 1998. I will never forget his big smile, or his firm handshake. He made a lasting impression! Not a day goes by that I do not pray for him and his family. You are remembered, never forgotten, and always in our hearts. Words can never express our gratitude to him and his family. You raised a hero...a real man for others!"
Marianne Phillips of Cincinnati, Ohio

"Mike, I can't believe it's been five years already. It seems like just yesterday that we were at Miami and you were running off to ring President Garland's doorbell as we marched by, goofing off before/after (or during) band practice, or you were being the perfect gentleman and making sure everyone got home OK after a night of having too much fun uptown. You were always a great friend and you are loved and missed every day."
Rachel of Cleveland

"It is hard to believe it has been almost 5 years. Even though I only knew Mike as an acquaintance and fellow Miami band member, I still think of him often. Just wanted to express my gratitude again for everything he was, and for everything he gave."
Chris A. of Columbus, OH

"I had Michael as a student in a Psych class when I taught at Miami. He was such a warm and fun individual. I remember his smile most. He was a great writer and I use his paper as a "good example" of student writing to this day. He is missed and I thank his family and him for their sacrifices."
Melissa A. Lea of Jackson, MS

"family of mr. cifuentes it is an honor for uds as american citizens to hear about aher in combat ddefending the usa.
but it is an honor that he had a name as cifuentes. there were not more than 3 cifuentes's in miami, and i walwais wander who Cifuentes come froom .I am INa mIAMI.

"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

"On May 23, 2009 I did a 4 mile memorial walk in honor of Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer of E. Northport NY. a US Marine who was killed in Iraq on July 21, 2007. On my number bib were the names of 3 other fallen marines. Lcpl. Michael J. Cifuentes was one of them. It was my honor and privilege to walk in his honor. Thank you Michael for your sacrifice you are not forgotten. I am the mother of a marine serving in Afghanistan and my thoughts and prayers are with Michaels family. Thank you for you sacrifice."
Fran Imbasciani of Ronkonkoma, NY, USA

"I still remember late nights at Miami when Mike crashed in my dorm room. He was a great friend, and he is missed. Your family is still in my thoughts and prayers, especially this Memorial Day 2009. Much love."
Leah (Chapman) Vincent of Alexandria, VA

"Memorial Day 2009
Thank you, Michael, a brother Marine. We think of you every Memorial Day and give thanks for the sacrifice that you made for our freedom. You are greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family."
Dave and Darlene Kezar of West Chester, OH

"From one bandsman to another, I will never forget you."
Adam McCormick of Bellevue, Kentucky

"Thank you for your service. Thank you for keeping us safe. You are a hero.

To his family, I can't imagine your pain. You are in my prayers. From one military family to another...we are all connected. Stay strong.

Jessica Cook"

"I love you and miss you so much, Precious."

"From one Miamian to another, Love and Honor. We will never forget."
Stu of Cincinnati, OH

"July 1, 2008
To the family of Lance Cpl. Michael J. Cifuentes:
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

"Hooorahh Mikey only the dead hve seen the end of war... we miss you and hope you enjoy the peace that we all long for.... athough we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we will fear no evil.... we are the baddest mothers in the valley.... semper fi devil.... Basra in 4 months.... catch you on the flip side mikey.... i miss you..."
Micky of Liberty, IN

"Mike "Minger" Cifuentus was a great guy who had a passion for serving his country and following his dreams. My God bless you and your family on this Memorial day and everyday. Thanks Mike."
Ryan Vingris of Springboro, OH

"idk u but what i do k is dat ur a hero 2 America. so 4 everyone who has suffered 4 this lost i send my condolences."
shayna hernandez 13yrs old of miami beach,florida

"My first memory of Michael Cifuentes was at the airport terminal where we waiting to fly off to boot camp. We ended up sitting in the floor playing cards for hours. We were put in platoon 1033 together and although I didn't get to know him as well as I wish. I knew him well enough to know he was a good, kind hearted person. And he was a good marine.
I'll never forget you Cifuentes."
Corporal Nicholas Haynes of Dry Ridge, Kentucky

"Dear Cifuentes Family and Fiance:

I know there isn't anything I can say that will help except for I am truly sorry for your loss and thankful for Michael. He has made the ultimate sacrafice for me and his country. For that, I will be forever thankful. He has also made a positive impact on everyone's life and like you, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I wanted to let you know he continues to live, in heaven and through me. He will never be forgotten! I wish I could bring him back, he brought a smile to so many, and made each day better for all."

"Sorry to hear of the loss. I am a veteran as well and am inclined to help family in any way I can. I run a group called Cadets for Veterans that will try to do its best in whatever you ask it to. cadets_for_veterans@hotmail.com"
Jose "Joe" Luis Sifuentes Jr. of Tomball, Texas

"It was so nice to meet your family at the Lima Company Traveling Memorial. It is such an honor. Your family is thought often."
Kim Gaiser of Newark, Ohio

I love you and miss you every day of my life. I know you were trying to protect all of us here and you deserve gratitude from this nation of people, even though all the attention would embarrass you. Your love and dedication to others will be remembered by many for years to come. I look forward to the day that I can hold you in my arms again, my beautiful son."

"He has changed the life's of many.
He will change the life's of many more."
Kim Gaiser of Newark, Ohio

"Thank You for your sacrifice."
Kim Gaiser of Newark, Ohio

Like some of the other people who have left reflections here, I also saw the A&E documentary about your unit also. I would just like to say thank you to you and the other Marines who were killed in that blast for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family, loved ones, and fellow Marines from Lima Company, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!"

"It has been over a year now, and I am still not able to come to terms with what has happened. Last night, for the first time since it aired, I finally watched the Combat Diaries segment on Lima Company. I tried many times before but couldn't watch it.
Mike was a wonderful friend and we were so excited that he was coming home so the four of us could hang out again. The news was so devastating to my husband and I that now is really the first time I am able to talk about it. We think about him everyday and miss him very much. It just doesn't seem fair.
I will never forget him and wish the best for Tara and his family."
Amy Pater of Pleasant View, Tennessee

"He was so young!!
May God bless Specially his mother as well as the other members of the family."
Nestor Cifuentes of Gilbert, Arizona

"To Michael's Fiance:

This is Meredith Napper again, I graduated from Miami in 2003. I am 25 and I lost my husband, he was killed in Bahrain. We were only married 7 months. Anyways, I noticed some of the family is from MI, as am I. I am reaching out to because I am young too, and I know how hard it is to be so young and loose the man you loved. If you ever wanted to contact me you are so welcome to do that. My email is decoumm@yahoo.com. Just remember that you CAN love him forever!"
Meredith Napper of Clio, MI

"I graduated from Miami in 2003. I came to this website because my husband, Petty Officer Roger. A Napper, of the U.S. Navy passed away in October. I just wanted to say, from one military family to another, that I am thinking of you during this time. I am glad to see other fellow alumni have reached out to you also! God Bless"
Meredith Napper of Clio, MI

"Dear family and friends of Micheal Cifuentes:
I supported Michael thru letters, cards, care packages and prayers while he was serving our country. I had "adopted" him thru a support group of the military. I just wanted you to know that he made an impact on my life and every time he wrote he talked about his wonderful family and fiance. You all are in my thoughts and prayers and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. He was a wonderful friend....."
Penny Sanford of Erie,PA

"Dear Cifuentes Family,

Recently in Lynchburg, Virginia,a "Healing field" Memorial was held to honor our fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each soldier was represented by an American flag with his or her name attached. My family was honored to take home and proudly display a flag with your son Michael's name on it. Today marks the one year anniversary of his death and before bed tonight we took time to learn more about Michael on the internet and pray for you and all those who new him. He was truly a remarkable soldier as well as a wonderful person who touched the lives of many. My wife Tracy and our children, Noah-9, Isaac-6 and Laura Beth-4, will continue to keep you in our prayers. We would love to hear from you and send you a picture with our flag. You may contact us at Henrythumb@aol., or by phone, 434-277-8650. Just as God sacrificed His Son for our lives, your son has made the ultimate sacrifice for our feedom. May God's peace be with you."
Adam Wilburn of Amherst, Va.

"To the family of:Michael J. Cifuentes I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all 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 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"Thanks Marine! I just saw a special on A&E about Lima Company in Iraq. All of your fellow Marines thought you were an outstanding individual. Semper Fi!"
James Carter of California

"Dear Cifuentes Family,

I knew your son through Miami's NROTC unit, but knew him more through my sister and her friends also apart of Miami's NROTC class of 2003. I know that just knowing your son has made my sister and I both better people. I am honored to have had that experience. Rest in peace Marine. He is a true Hero."
The Morgans of Oxford OH/Philadelphia PA

"Dear Cifuentes Family,

I just needed to tell you that I appreciate your family. I watched the documentary on A&E the other night about Michael and the others who lost their lives. I did not know Michael personally, but I saw just a little of what he was like. What a marvelous person. I felt compelled to visit his grave sight to pay respects, first as a greatful American, and secondly as a fellow veteran. You are in mine as well as many others prayers.God Bless all of you. Semper Fi"
Scott of Cincinnati,OH

"Dear Cifuentes Family,

After watching a show about your son. I personally want to thank your son for the sacifrice he gave defending our country."
Nacio Torres of Kyle, TX

"It's the days that I'm not busy running around doing errands that the pain of losing you comes back. I wish I would have talked to you more or seen you more...I just want you to know that I always looked up to you and it's hard knowing that the one I admired is gone and I never told you how much I cared about you so I know it's late but I LOVE YOU MICHAEL!!! I'm proud of you and you will always be my hero!"
Kathleen Cifuentes of Midland, MI

"To the Cifuentes Family:
First of all, please let me say how very sorry I am for your loss. Mike and I were good friends at Miami. We met in NROTC and spent alot of time together outside of ROTC functions as well. In fact, he took me to one of his Marching Band formals and took my best friend to one of our military balls. He even worked for my dad's company one summer in Cincinnati where he was, of course, very well-liked. I will never forget the time he dressed up like Winnie the Pooh for a Halloween Party! He was always so fearless! He was such an amazing person with so much love in his heart for everyone and everything. Unfortunately, he and I lost touch after I graduated but I still wondered all the time how he was doing. I wish I could go back and change that. It broke my heart to hear about his death and I still think about him often. I wish there was something I could do or say that would give you some peace, but I know nothing can do that for you. I do know that Mike loved his country and wanted to be a Marine so badly. I know that he was one of the sweetest people I've ever known and that he will always be with us. Please know that he made a difference in so many lives--mine included--with his positivity, humor and charm. I miss him very much and so wish I could have told him how much his friendship meant to me. I wish you all the peace in the world. Know that Michael died with honor and with the love of so many people you may not even know. God Bless you all."
LT Lindsey Johnson, USN (Miami U Class of '01) of San Diego, CA

"To the Cifuentes Family:
Our thoughts are prayers are with you! We are sooo sorry for your loss...
Thank you to your brave marine for making the ultimate sacrifice for our Safety & FREEDOM! Michael is a TRUE HERO and will never be forgotten!
Rest in Peace Marine! Semper Fi"
The Grogans of TN...

"To the friends and family of Michael J. Cifuentes,
My best friend, Taylor Prazynski, died in Iraq on May 9. i know how hard it is to lose a loved one but i just wanted to say im sorry and i am proud to live in a world where people like Michael and Taylor will willing lay down there lives to keep us free. From the bottom of my heart, i am truely sorry for your loss. All of you and Michael are in my thoughts. He is a TRUE HERO to us all."
Nick Salcedo of Fairfield, Oh.

"I miss our hero Mikey C. He was truly one of the greatest friends I've ever had. He was a member of Tau Beta Sigma with me and always made me smile. I can't go a day without thinking about him."
Laura Burling of Oxford, OH/USA

"To the family and friends of Lance Corporal Michael J. Cifuentes,

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."

Proud Marine Mom and Proud Member of Marine Comfort Quilts "
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca USA

"When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

When tomorrow starts without me. And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes, all filled with tears for me.

I wish so much you wouldn't cry, the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me, I know you'll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me. Please try to understand
That an angel came and called my name, and took me by the hand.

And said my place was ready in heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind all those I dearly love.

But when I walked through heaven's gates I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me from His great golden throne.

He said, "This is eternity and all I've promised you,
For your life on earth has passed, but here it starts anew."

"I promise no tomorrow for today will always last
And since each day's the same way, there's no longing for the past".

So when tomorrow starts without me, don't think we're far apart.
For every time you think of me, I'm right here in your heart.

All our prayers are with you."
A Miami Mother of Fairfield, OH

"May God Bless you and keep you safe in His arms Michael Cifuentes....My nephew Marlin Rockhold was killed 2003 and I know the pain of losing a loved one...He may be gone but not forgotten.....Keep the faith and you will be forever be in the realm of His love"
Karen Henderson-Butler of Hamilton,Ohio

"7 Aug 05
MARINE LANCE CPL MICHAEL CIFUENTES - You are an American hero whose ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten by a grateful nation. Rest in peace Marine. You will be remembered for always being faithful to God, Country, Family and the Corps.
My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Michael and may memories comfort you during this most difficult time and always. America salutes Marine Lance Cpl Cifuenties/"

"Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Cifuentes, "thank you" isn't enough for the ultimate sacrifice you gave to each of us. Our prayers and thoughts are with your family during this difficult time."
Jerry & Toni Longville of Akron, Ohio

"We are deeply sorry for your loss. America will forever honor your Hero.
The Courage, Honor, and Valor that your Hero showed will always be remembered.
We are grateful for the sacrifice that was made and we will NEVER FORGET.
God Bless your family and please know that you are not alone.
All of our prayers are with you."
Jennifer and SSGT Larry Mays of Massillon, Ohio

"Dear Family of Michael Cifuentes: I lost my son, LCpl Chad Maynard, on June 15, 2005 in Ramadi. When I heard the news on the radio about your son, it was like I was reliving that day all over again. It's hard for me to type this even now. I'm so sorry for your loss. On the temporary head stone on my son's grave is the saying, "Not In Vain". That is truly what my son believed and what we, as his family, have to believe every day. Please know that I feel your pain and loss, and I cry with you. They say time eases the pain, and I guess they may be right, but with every new report, I feel the ache of missing my son so much. Always remember, you are not alone. There are others who love you and care about you and know exactly what you are going through. Thank you for your son and his service to us all."
Cindy Maynard, mother of LCpl Chad Maynard and Cpl Jacob Maynard of Kennewick, WA

"Dear Family of Timothy Bell: I lost my son, LCpl Chad Maynard, on June 15, 2005 in Ramadi. When I heard the news on the radio about your son, it was like I was reliving that day all over again. It's hard for me to type this even now. I'm so sorry for your loss. On the temporary head stone on my son's grave is the saying, "Not In Vain". That is truly what my son believed and what we, as his family, have to believe every day. Please know that I feel your pain and loss, and I cry with you. They say time eases the pain, and I guess they may be right, but with every new report, I feel the ache of missing my son so much. Always remember, you are not alone. There are others who love you and care about you and know exactly what you are going through. Thank you for your son and his service to us all."
Cindy Maynard, mother of LCpl Chad Maynard and Cpl Jacob Maynard of Kennewick, WA

"It is still so unreal that we have lost you. Every day I try to pretend it's not true, but the pictures and articles plastered all over, make it impossible to pretend. You are missed and loved by so many and I just wish you were back here with us and this was just all a nightmare. Thank you for being brave and fighting for our freedom. We will never forget...

I love you Michael"
Maria Cifuentes of Midland, MI

"Rest In Peace Tuefelhunden.
J and T USMC NC"

"To the Cifuentes Family, I wish to extend to you my deepest condolences. Your Michael is truly an American Hero. Michael will always be remembered and honored. We are praying for all of you. May God Bless you all and God Bless Michael."
Mary Ghaney of Brooklyn, New York

"I am so sorry for your loss. I pray God gives you the strenght to go on. My nephew died Nov 2003, so I know how you must feel. We will never forget Michael and his sacrifice for all of us."
Maureen Ledet of Loveland, Ohio

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 "

"My heart and prayers go out to the family, friends and comrades of Michael. May God be with you all and give you comfort."
Marine Mom 3/25/4th of western NY

"The Salute

To those who have died,
And to those who have cried.
We Salute You.

To those who have lost,
Paid the ultimate cost.
We Salute You.

And to those who still serve,
The Red White and Blue.
Our grateful Nation,
Proudly Salutes You."
Tom Balstad of West Warwick RI

"Thank you Michael Cifuentes, 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 Lance Cpl. Michael Cifuentes:
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 Lance Cpl. Michael Cifuentes:
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