A fearless warrior and leader among men, Zembiec gained the moniker “Lion of Fallujah” after his heroic efforts in the United States’ April 2004 effort to capture the Iraqi city. In a telling example, Zembiec’s former high school wrestling coach once said: "If you took 100 Doug Zembiecs to war with you, you could conquer the world."
Zembiec’s valor earned him a Silver Star and his courageous exploits have been well documented in many books and newspaper articles, including an August 2004 profile in the Los Angeles Times. Since his death, Zembiec has received numerous honors. General David Petraeus dedicated the helicopter landing pad at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, in Zembiec's name, and his picture now hangs above the desk of the Secretary of Defense.
“Doug Zembiec was a shining example of patriotism,”
The clinics are run by the Zembiec’s wrestling teammates and Naval Academy classmates. One of those former classmates, Vince Martino, the COO of Boise-based iVinci Health, spoke Saturday about the reason for holding these clinics.
“After he died, my classmates and I put together this memorial,” Martino said. “Instead of establishing a monument or a building in his name, we put together what we consider a living legacy.”
To date, Zembiec’s classmates and wrestling friends have volunteered their time to give clinics to hundreds of youth wrestlers across the nation. Their goal is to provide affordable wrestling clinics aimed at teaching wrestling, but at the same time promoting the tenets of leadership and service.
“We don’t just teach wrestling to these kids,” Martino said. “We teach the principals of leadership, the principals of community service – what it means to be a leader in your community. And those are the things that Doug stood for.”
The wrestlers in attendance were guided by a group of All-American wrestlers and seasoned coaches. Instructors at the clinic included:
• Dan Hicks, coach of both the U.S. World Greco Team and the U.S. Marine Corps Wrestling Team, and a former classmate of Zembiec
• Joel Sharratt, head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a two-time national champion at the University of Iowa
• Michael Clayton, head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology, and a former classmate of Zembiec
• Larry Quisel, a two-time All-American wrestler for Boise State University and a national runner-up in 2000
• Andrew Hochstrasser, also a two-time All-American wrestler for Boise State University, who just this year was second in the nation at 133 pounds.
“The kids are getting a great benefit out of this,” Martino said. “But, more than wrestling, they’re learning about leadership.”
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