Cpl Nicholas Lee Ziolkowski
"A sniper killed by a sniper"
On November 14, 2004, during combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq, CORPORAL NICHOLAS L. ZIOLKOWSKI, USMC, was killed by enemy fire.
Nick, who was a sniper, was killed by the sniper he was trying to kill, according to his Captain. He had taken his helmet off to see better, Nick's mother was told. But she was also told it probably wouldn't have mattered if he had had the helmet on.
Corporal Ziolkowski, 22, of Towson, Maryland, was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Ziolkowski was immortalized in pictures and words in a New York Times report by Dexter Filkins, who was embedded with the Marines in Falluja.
Family and friends remembered Ziolkowski as an intensely patriotic young man, one who began planning for his military service in ninth grade and left for active duty in the Marines the morning after high-school graduation. They said he firmly believed he could help make the world a better place.
"He loved his country more than any person I know that age," said Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., who taught Ziolkowski and his older brother Peter U.S. history at Boys' Latin. "I don't think I could be any prouder of Nick."
In a written statement, Miller described her son as "charismatic, caring and sensitive, making friends wherever he went." Ziolkowski's father, Andrew, said in the statement that his Captain "wanted 10 more guys like Nick."
Ziolkowski ran several miles every day and worked out constantly to get in the best shape possible for military service, his family said.
At 17, he completed the Navy Seal Odyssey program, the 24-hour version of the Navy's "Hell Week," according to the family's statement. He finished in the top 10 among several hundred participants and was the youngest finisher.
Ziolkowski and his close friend, fellow Marine Mark Engel, dreamed of coming home safely together and opening a surf shop in Cancun, according to the family. That dream was shattered in July when Engel, a Colorado resident, died of wounds received in Iraq's Anbar province.
Ziolkowski was scheduled to return home in February, and he planned to attend college at Towson University, the family said.