STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- It’s a memorial you’ll never forget: 23 life-size portraits of Marines killed in action while serving in Iraq back in 2005.
All of them were from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, a unit based out of Columbus, Ohio.
“As a Lima Company Marine, this is especially important to me to come and remember and honor the sacrifice of my fellow Marines,” said Marine Veteran Jason Dominguez.
He served alongside the men. He said their bond is still unbreakable.
“They're always with us. The thing about a reserve unit like Lima Company is that often guys in that unit, they'll spend six years with each other, and then they go overseas together. So knowing them, it's like another member of your family,” he said.
The Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial travels all around the country and was created by Ohio Artist Anita Miller.
She wanted to find a way to pay tribute to the fallen, so she started painting.
“She didn't know any of these guys. She used photos, she spoke with the families to try to get to know these men as best she could from a complete stranger and she did, she captured their personality quite well,” said Marine Veteran and director of the Memorial, Mike Strahle.
Strahle also served with the fallen Marines overseas. He now tours the country with the memorial.
“Early on, it was difficult, but it's my honor, and it's something that's helped me probably more than anybody at this point,” he recalls.
While he does a lot of these events, he said Thursday’s was quite unique. The truck carrying the memorial wasn’t just escorted by a motorcade, but by a helicopter, too. It was provided by Cleveland Clinic.
“That was only the second helicopter we ever had in an escort and they we`re right above us. It was awesome,” he said.
The paintings will be on display until Saturday at the Strongsville Recreation Center.
For more information on the exhibit, click here.