Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Raymond J Plouhar

Lake Orion, Michigan

June 26, 2006

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
30 Marine SSG

3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Pendleton, California

 Killed while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

this is me this is who i am
i am a Marine to the very end 

i will live, i will fight, i will kill, i will die
i live by the motto that is Semperi Fi

i come to countries in far off lands
to fight for freedom for which most are to scared to stand

do not judge me for what i do
for what i do i do for you

i will kill for those who cannot kill
i will die for those to scared to

i will leave my loved ones, my kids, my wife
i will leave them all behind to give you a better life

i have seen and done things that will haunt my dreams
i have given up many things for you to be free

do not feel pity for me, for this is my choice
i chose this life so people like you can have a voice

i will die on my feet, i will not live on my knees
i will do this so America can stay free

this is me this is who i am 
i am a Marine to the very end 

-Sgt. Raymond Plouhar- 

DETROIT (June 28) - A Marine and one-time recruiter who appeared in Michael Moore's documentary film "Fahrenheit 9/11" has died in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, died Monday of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Iraq's volatile Anbar province, the Defense Department said Tuesday.

Plouhar, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., had taken four years off from active duty to serve as a recruiter in Flint after donating one of his kidneys to his uncle. He is seen in the 2004 film approaching prospective recruits in a mall parking lot.

"It's better to get them when they're in ones and twos and work on them that way," he says in the film.

Although Plouhar willingly appeared in the movie, which is critical of the Bush administration's actions after Sept. 11, his father said Plouhar didn't realize it would criticize the war.

"I'm proud that my son wanted to protect the freedom of this country whether we all agree with the war or not," he said.

Plouhar grew up in Lake Orion, about 30 miles north of Detroit.

He is survived by a wife and two children, ages 5 and 9. They live in Arizona.
Metro Detroit
Marine remembered for his generosity

July 8, 2006



Leigha Plouhar, center, watches as Marines carry her husband's casket Friday at the funeral at Lake Orion High School. Marine Staff Sgt. Raymond Plouhar, a 1996 Lake Orion High School graduate, was killed in combat in Iraq last month and buried with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral service. (Photos by HUGH GRANNUM/Detroit Free Press)

Raymond J. Plouhar's funeral was a celebration.

Of the life he chose. Of the sacrifices he made. Of the impact he had.

"He gave his uncle a kidney, and he died for his country. That sums it up right there," said Tammy Brown, a former coworker of Cynthia Plouhar, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Raymond Plouhar's mother.

Sgt. Plouhar, 30, a 1996 graduate of Lake Orion High School and a father of two, was killed in combat June 26 by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.

Hundreds of people filled the auditorium at Lake Orion High School on Friday morning for his funeral. Outside, dozens holding American flags lined the school's driveway.

Terry McKinnon of Highland Township held his flag high as a man playing taps on a bagpipe exited the school, followed by Sgt. Plouhar's casket, which was draped with a flag and carried by Marine pallbearers.

His family, many of them weeping, quickly filed into waiting limousines.

And as the funeral procession was led away from the high school by a group of motorcyclists, McKinnon folded up the flag he had been holding. He came to the funeral because he and Sgt. Plouhar shared a mutual friend, and because he's a Marine veteran. Just this week, he signed up to join the Patriot Guard.

"We like to be out here to support our country," McKinnon said of the Patriot Guard, mostly made up of motorcyclists who travel to the funerals of fallen troops nationwide to shield families from protesters and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sgt. Plouhar was a platoon leader assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He left behind sons Raymond, 9, and Michael, 5, and a wife, Leigha, whom he called "my biggest hero" on his MySpace.com Web page.

There, he also wrote about both of his tours in Iraq, saying: "You can call me crazy but I like," coming to Iraq. Someone "has to do it, plus I love what I do."

Though he didn't know Sgt. Plouhar, Scott Marks of Los Angeles, who was visiting relatives in Pontiac, said it was important for him to attend the funeral.

"The Marine Corps is my fraternity. When I see a Marine, I speak to him. And when one falls, a part of you falls, because he's your buddy. It touches you," said Marks, a Marine veteran whose relatives live next to Sgt. Plouhar's grandmother.

Sgt. Plouhar had been scheduled to return home from Iraq at the end of this month. Last year, his work as a Marine recruiter was featured in Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11," which was critical about the Bush administration's actions after the 9/11 attacks. It was an appearance he hated, his family has said. And the Marines accused the movie's production company of duping Sgt. Plouhar's recruiting unit into cooperating.

But Mary Cottrill, a family friend, said he may best be known for his friendly personality and giving nature. He described himself online as having interests in the outdoors.

"But my biggest interests have to be my wife and kids. They are my life, that might sound kinda corney but it's true," he wrote.

Cottrill knew Sgt. Plouhar's mother through their work with Lake Orion Community Schools. She heard of the sacrifice he made in donating a kidney to his uncle. Cottrill, a bus driver for the district, met Sgt. Plouhar several years ago at his grandmother's funeral.

"He was making sure he made the rounds and he talked to everyone," Cottrill said Friday.

In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by parents Cynthia and Raymond Plouhar Sr.; sisters Toni Plouhar and Marie Martinez, and grandmother Shirley Kennedy.

Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or higgins@freepress.com.

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