SEVILLE, OH - Patriotic men and women gathered at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery on Sunday to honor the sacrifice of dozens of Ohio Marines killed in one of the hardest hit units during the Iraq War.
The ceremony was held ahead of the opening of the traveling memorial called, "The Eyes of Freedom: The Lima Company Memorial," which features more than a dozen life-sized portraits of the fallen.
In 2005 the deaths of 23 servicemen between May and August made national headlines. All of the fallen served in Lima Company 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, based in Columbus.
"I survived a blast incident on that deployment as well so I had some pretty severe survivors guilt," said Mike Strahle, a Purple Heart combat veteran who served in the unit. "Just being involved with this tribute has helped chip away at that."
Strahle is encouraging families to witness the emotional memorial. People who knew the fallen marines say their portraits are deeply moving.
"I travel the country with it and I feel more connected to him now than I did when he was alive," said Sean Flaharty who worked with one of the fallen servicemen prior to the war. "It's kind of strange but it's a true feeling."
Memorial organizers say the tribute honors the service and sacrifice of all who answer our nation’s call to serve.
"You train together you work together you get pretty close pretty quick," said Strahle. "I was pretty close with about half the guys in the portraits. It's an honor to carry on their story and let their story speak for all of us."
Starting Monday the memorial will be on display for one week at the Medina County Fair.
For more information on The Eyes of Freedom, click here.