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Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr.
Died: August 10, 2008

Michael H. Ferschke, Jr. was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on November 13, 1985 and enlisted in the Marine Corps on October 7, 2003 from his home town of Maryville, TN.

Upon completion of recruit training at MCRD Parris Island, SC, Private Ferschke reported to School of Infantry, Camp Lejeune, NC where he was assigned the primary MOS of 0311, Basic Rifleman.

Upon completion of school he reported to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, NC. While at 2nd Recon Bn, he attended the Amphibious Reconnaissance School (ARS) and was re-assigned to the primary MOS of 0321, Reconnaissance Marine. Also while assigned to 2nd Recon Bn, he attended the Basic Airborne Course.

In March 2005, he was reassigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Okinawa, Japan. While assigned to 3rd Recon Bn, he participated in two rigorous training cycles and deployments with 31 st MEU(SOC) as a member of both the Amphibious Reconnaissance and the Deep Reconnaissance Platoons, as well as attending the Marine Combatant Diver Course.

Sgt Ferschke served in billets as radio operator and assistant team leader before being assigned to his current billet as Team Leader, Team One, 1 st Platoon, Company A.

Sergeant Ferschke's personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. Sergeant Ferschke's other awards include the Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with two Stars in lieu of third award, and National Defense Medal.

Sergeant Ferschke is survived by his wife Hotaru Ferschke of Okinawa, Japan and their first child.


FERSCHKE, SERGEANT MICHAEL HARVEY, JR., 22, of Maryville, TN, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, August 10, 2008 while serving with the United States Marine Corps in Iraq.

Michael was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on November 13, 1985 and lived there for the first nine years of his life, then lived his remaining years in Maryville, TN. He graduated from Maryville High School in 2003; joined the Marine Corps and reported for Basic Training at Parris Island, SC in October 2003. He served as a proud Recon Marine in North Carolina, Okinawa, and his last mission in Iraq. He served with the 3rd Recon Bn., 1st Platoon, ACo.

Preceded in death by grandparents, Evelyn Decotaux, Robert Lambert, Sr., Gerald Ferschke, and Florence Ferschke; cousins, Michael Lemire and Jamie Bradley; Uncle, Dennis Ferschke; aunts, Jackie Bradley, Susie Ratti and Lucille Ferschke.

He is survived by a loving wife, Hotaru (Nakama) Ferschke and their first child, who is due in January 2009; parents, Michael H. Ferschke, Sr. and Robin K. (Lambert) Ferschke; brother, Raymond Lambert; sister, Alissa Bridgman; nieces and nephews, Jasmine, Bryson, Andrew, Courtney, and Jack; brother-in-law, John Bridgman; aunts and uncles, Deborah Fortier, Robert Lambert, June McMahon, Kim Wyatt, Chris Lambert, Lyn Doyon, Tammy Lambert, Donald Ferschke, Carol Laravie, Janice Gothier, France Cote, Mark Ferschke, Norman Ferschke, Bob Ferschke, Christine Smith; fifty-two cousins; the remaining of the Fearsome Four Randy, Jonathan, Ben; and special friends, Doug and Irene Cooper, Zeal (brother Marine). Michael will be greatly missed by all who loved him, all who knew him, and all who wanted to know him. He was a very proud Marine, and his family was most important to him. Michael will always be remembered in all of our hearts, forever.

Thank you for all the calls, visits, and support you have given to us. Mike and Robin Ferschke.

Maryville, Tenn., Marine killed in Iraq
Associated Press - August 12, 2008

MARYVILLE, Tenn.— A Rhode Island-born Marine who had married about a month ago and just found out his wife was going to have a baby was shot to death in Iraq during a house search, his family said Tuesday.

Sgt. Michael Ferschke (FUR'-skee) Jr. died Sunday, his father said. Ferschke, 22, of Maryville, was assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division and stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

Ferschke's father, Michael said his son had been in Iraq since March. He said the newlyweds had just found out they were going to have a baby.

Ferschke said his son was born in Rhode Island, but grew up and went to high school in Maryville, about 16 miles south of Knoxville.

The younger Ferschke joined the Marines because he was looking for a challenge after high school, his father said.

"He looked at all the other forces, but that didn't look like a challenge for him," Ferschke said. "He loved his job and he loved what he was doing."

Ferschke, who was a radio operator, completed a diving school while in the Marines and hoped to become a diving instructor.

He had the option of finishing his service in the Marines in October, but he felt an obligation to stay and serve a tour in Iraq, like many of his fellow Marines, his father said.

His mother, Robin, said Ferschke was an energetic and adventurous teenager who liked riding BMX bikes and skiing. They talked a lot by phone even while he was in Japan and he was always giving advice or trying to help his friends and family, she said.

"He was like a male 'Dear Abby,'" Robin Ferschke said. "He helped me through things and I helped him. He always used to say his dad was his hero, but he's our hero."

Ferschke said her son was excited about becoming a father and talked a lot about the things he wanted to share with his child.

"He had lots of dreams, but the only one he wanted was to make sure that child grew up to be the best," she said.

In a Father's Day message aired on WBIR-TV in Knoxville in June, Ferschke greeted his father and brother from Camp Fallujah, Iraq, and said, "Hopefully next year, I'll be down there with you guys. Have a couple of beers, celebrate. Love you guys."

Ferschke is also survived by his brother and his sister. Funeral services are planned for Sunday in Maryville.

Sgt. Michael Ferschke, 2003 Maryville grad, dies in Iraq firefight
By Lance Coleman

Blount Today - Maryville, TN. - Monday, August 11, 2008

Michael Ferschke, a 2003 Maryville High School graduate and a U.S. Marine, died during a firefight Sunday in Iraq.

According to family friend Douglas Cooper, the family wasn't given specific information on where the incident occurred. “They were doing a house-to-house search and entered a home and a gun battle took place. We still don't have exact coordinates,” he said.

The family received a phone call on Sunday night about 10:30 p.m. at about the same time two U.S. Marine Corps personnel knocked on the door to officially notify them of the death.

“They've dreaded a late evening knock on the door since he talked about wanting to go into the Marines, but they believed in him and what he was fighting for,” Cooper said. “They couldn't be prouder of their son.”

Cooper said funeral arrangements would be made once the family received more information from the military.

Ferschke and his wife, Hota, were newlyweds. “He was married for one month to the date of his death,” Cooper said. “They were married by video phone. She was in Okinawa, and he was in Iraq. She is five months pregnant and due in January.”

Ferschke was an honors student in math at Maryville High School and was involved in several drama performances there.

Cooper said Ferschke joined the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school.

“He was very, very proud Marine... What he wanted was a challenge out of life, and he knew the Marine Corps was the biggest challenge, and so he wanted to join the Marines and fight for his country,” Cooper said.

Cooper said that after five years in the Corps, Ferschke had attained the rank of sergeant and was in the infrantry/reconnaissance.

“This was his first tour. He was due to get out this past October and told the Marine Corps he would re-up if they allowed him to go to Iraq. He wanted to fight for his country. They deployed him in March,” Cooper said.

Cooper said that as a high school student Ferschke enjoyed riding BMX bikes, dating and being an uncle to his niece. He had an older brother and an older sister. “At the time he only had one niece, and she was the apple of his eye,” Cooper said.

Cooper said Ferschke was strong willed, had a big heart, was a jokester and had a love in his heart for his family and friends.

“He's effected so many lives here in Tennessee as well as where the family came from back in Rhode Island,” Cooper said.


High school remembers sergeant killed in action 11 August 2008

Sergeant Michael Ferschke Jr. graduated from Maryville High School in 2003.

One day after the sergeant's family received notice he was killed while in action, going home-to-home in Iraq, a trio of his teacher's remember a student they call a quiet leader who represented the school nearly perfectly.

"He was a very bright math student," Ashley Porter, Ferschke's former math teacher said.

"He was one of those you enjoyed seeing everyday," Joe Pinkerton, a former teacher of Ferschke's and now Assistant Principal at Maryville High School said.

"He was quiet," Sherry Petrowski, Ferschke's drama teacher said. "I think his quietness is what drew leadership to him. He lead through his actions more than anything I saw."

He graduated from Maryville High School five years ago, leaving behind the auditorium and stage his teachers call his passion.

Michael Ferschke also leaves behind a lot of fond memories with those teachers and the community who knew him well.

Monday, they found out the 23 year old was killed while serving his country in Iraq.

"There are just some students you always remember," Petrowski said. "As soon as he (the school principal) said Michael's name, I didn't have to look him up in the annual to remember."

Petrowski worked with Ferschke on stage and behind the scenes with Maryville High School's drama department.

He was a kid teachers called hard-working with a passion for drama. They think the creativity involved is what sparked his interest, but not necessarily the chance to be in the spotlight.

"I think he found his niche where you don't have to be the most vocal person to be the leader," Pinkerton said.

But even when thrust into the spotlight on stage, he'd find a way to pull it off.

"In spite of his nervousness, he came through and did an amazing job," Petrowski said. "I'll always remember Michael as being friendly and outgoing. He always did what he said he was going to do, even though it wasn't easy for him."

Doing what he said he'd do included the marines.

While in high school, Ferschke talked about enlisting and even had conversations with veteran and then math teacher Joe Pinkerton about the military.

After graduating, he became a member of the Marine Corps. But even while on active duty, he never forgot where he came from.

"When he would get leave, he'd come back to the high school to update on how he was doing," Porter said.

Those relationships he built and found the time to keep are making for heavy hearts this week throughout Blount County.

"Definitely our hearts go out to his family, and his extended family as well as as his brothers and sisters in the military," Pinkerton said.

Ferschke's funeral arrangements are not finalized. Count on 10 News and to bring you the latest.


Maryville native killed by gunfire in Iraq during house-to-house search - 12 August 2008

Michael Ferschke Jr. loved the theater, but his post-graduate plans to make a career in the military came as no surprise to his high school drama teacher, Sherry Petrowski.

The 22-year-old Marine Corps sergeant and 2003 Maryville High School graduate was killed by gunfire Sunday while conducting a house-to-house search in Iraq, according to close family friend Doug Cooper.

Petrowski remembered her former student as an energetic, popular young man who joined the football team as a freshman, but found a more rewarding challenge once he tried his hand at acting as a sophomore.

Ferschke excelled in both cast and crew roles as a stage manager, lighting director and actor over the course of several productions through his senior year.

"He just challenged himself to explore all areas of the theater," said Petrowski, even if he wasn't the most naturally gifted actor. "He challenged himself to act. … He wasn't afraid to go outside his comfort zone."

The Maryville native followed through on his well-known hopes to enlist just after high school. He had been deployed to Iraq since March from his station in Okinawa, where he left his newlywed Japanese wife, Hota, who is pregnant and due to deliver in January, Cooper said.

"He was only married exactly one month to the day before he was killed," Cooper said. "He joined the Marine Corps because that's what he believed in. He had the chance to (be discharged) and he said no. He wanted to go to Iraq. He was very, very proud to be a Marine. … Just a very outstanding young man."

In addition to his parents, Ferschke also leaves behind an older brother and sister, as well as five nieces and nephews. The family members, who were notified of his death late Sunday night, were not available for comment Monday.

Ferschke's exact location in Iraq was not immediately available, Cooper said.

The young sergeant taped a Father's Day video greeting to his father and brother that aired on WBIR-TV Channel 10 in June, during which he was deployed in Camp Fallujah with the Marine Corps' 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.

"Hopefully next year I'll be down there with you guys," he says, in part. "Have a couple of beers, celebrate. Love you guys."


Maryville soldier killed in Iraq - 12 August 2008
By Matthew Stewart of The Daily Times Staff

Maryville High School administrators and teachers mourned the loss of a former student Monday.

The grief was echoed throughout the Blount County community as family and friends similarly remembered Sgt. Michael Ferschke, a 2003 graduate of Maryville High School. The 23-year-old soldier was killed Sunday in Iraq, according to news reports.

Ferschke was married and he last visited his wife, Hota, who lives in Okinawa, Japan, in April. The couple married exactly one month ago Sunday. Ferschke met her while stationed in Japan.

The couple is also expecting a child, which is due January.

"This is a loss deeply felt by the Maryville High School community," said Principal Mike Casteel.

Many teachers recalled his warm, reserved personality. Joe Pinkerton, one of the school's assistant principals, was teaching math classes while Ferschke was attending the school.

"He was a joy to have in class -- he always brought a positive outlook. He would always attack his problems and try to overcome any difficulty," said Pinkerton. "He always had a smile on his face and was very inquisitive. He was a leader by example and with his actions," he said. "He was a very unique young man."

Administrators and teachers also remembered a young man who enjoyed challenges and ultimately found his niche in the school's drama department. Ferschke took six drama classes in his last three years of high school, and he participated in five musicals and full-length plays in that time-span.

"I was very fortunate to have Michael in my class for three years. I got to watch him grow up into a young man," said Sherry Petrowski, a drama teacher. Ferschke "filled lots of roles in my class. He loved drama and was a natural on the stage. (Drama classes) challenged him and he just took full advantage (of the experience)."

Several teachers also remember Ferschke coming back two or three times after graduation to visit them. "He always made it a point to see us, which made us feel special. He would give us a big hug, tell us where he was based, talk about the (school's) upcoming productions and reminisce about his memories of the plays," said Petrowski. "It was always good to see him."

Wanted to serve

Ferschke's passing has profoundly affected faculty members and left them with mixed emotions. "My heart's heavy now. However, (serving in the military is what he) wanted to do. He talked about it a lot," said Petrowski.

"In my opinion, he wanted something to challenge him. He enjoyed being active, and he was the kind of person who wanted to explore lots of different things," she said. "He loved inconsistencies and diversity. Going into the military offered him chances to explore diversity in life and it fit him," said Petrowski.

The military also "gave him the opportunity to be a leader in different areas. It doesn't surprise me he did it. Hard things motivated him," said Petrowski. "In my opinion, something in him wanted to push himself. He got a lot of satisfaction in that."

The young man that teachers and administrators remember had a genial soul. "He enjoyed everything he did and (knew how to live) in the moment," said Petrowski. "I admired his ability to laugh at himself and move on. There was just something in there that made him special," she said. "There was a willingness to serve to his full capacity -- he was my go-to guy.

"I can still see him in front of my face even though I haven't had him in class for five years. I will always remember Michael. I'm just trying to absorb the fact he's not with us anymore. It is a life that's gone to soon at 23 years old. He left us with rich memories. We will always have that."

Some teachers have developed a new outlook on schooling and life from his passing. "This puts everything in perspective. When I see those young faces in front of me tomorrow, I want to try to hold on to them. There are more Michaels, whose lives are special, and who may be taken too soon," said Petrowski. "I want to know every student in a personal way. This is a challenge to all of us to take a hard look as faces present themselves to us -- no matter how brief they're there."

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