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MARINE SSGT RAYMOND PLOUHAR, R.I.P.

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 28, 2006 02:21 PM

The DoD announced today the death of Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, of Lake Orion, Mich.:

Plouhar died June 26 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Plouhar was exploited by Michael Moore in his crockumentary, Fahrenheit 9/11:

A U.S. Marine and one-time recruiter who appeared in Michael Moore’s acclaimed documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11″ has died in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

Although Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar willingly appeared in a segment of the 2004 film, his father, Raymond, said Tuesday that his son didn’t realize that it was for a movie critical of the war.

Raymond Plouhar said that all his 30-year-old son ever wanted to do was serve his country.

“I remember when he fell in the bathtub and cut his chin when he was 6 years old, and the only way I could get him to go to the hospital was to tell it was a MASH unit,” Raymond Plouhar said. “I’m proud that my son wanted to protect the freedom of this country whether we all agree with the war or not.”

The younger Plouhar died Monday of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

Plouhar, of Lake Orion, about 30 miles north of Detroit, was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, First Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He signed up for the Marines immediately after graduating from Lake Orion High School, where he wrestled and played football, his father said in a telephone interview.

The 57-year-old Plouhar said his son took four years off from active duty to serve as a recruiter in Flint after donating one of his kidneys to his uncle.

During that time, the Marine was filmed as part of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” about the Bush administration’s actions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The 10-year Marine’s sister and grandfather served in the Army. He had only 38 days left in Iraq and had been there a little more than four months during his most recent tour, his family said.

“I’m devastated, sad and proud,” Plouhar said of his only son. “This just makes me devoted even more to his belief that people need help in Iraq, and he felt that he was helping.”

He said his son was teased a lot as a young kid and protected people as he grew up.

“He liked to protect the underdog,” the father said. “All of his buddies from school called saying, `He was my friend when nobody else would be.'”

More on Plouhar’s kidney donation:

As a highly skilled marksman, he is trained to make split-second decisions in life and death situations. Likewise, he did not hesitate to react when he received the news of a family member in distress..

Second Marine Division’s Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar decided to give the gift of life – – in the form of one of his kidneys – – to his uncle, Tim Kennedy.

The sergeant from Surveillance, Target and Acquisition Platoon, Weapons Company, 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment, was home on leave for Easter 1998, when his mother told him of his uncle’s hospitalization.

Kennedy, a husband and father of two girls, was diagnosed with renal kidney failure, a potentially life-ending disease that required an organ transplant, according to Plouhar.

“As soon as I found out, I offered to be tested [as a donor],” said the Lake Orion, Mich., Marine.

Plouhar’s wife, Leigh, was hesitant about his eagerness to donate at first.
“I was angry at him,” she said.” I was upset ’cause he didn’t discuss it with me. He just decided to do it.”

Leigh’s concern centered on her own immediate family – – her husband and their toddler, Raymond.

“It took her a few months to agree,” said Plouhar. “I explained to her that when they’re in need, you help family. That’s the way I was raised.”

The Marine’s command also ensured that he understood the repercussions of organ donation.

Plouhar sought the advice of his platoon sergeant at the time, Staff Sgt. Greg S. Tyler, now a scout/sniper instructor at Stone Bay.

“I told him to think of his family first,” said Tyler of Santa Ynez, Calif. “I reminded him that this could affect the rest of his life.”

“They (his command) were really supportive,” Plouhar said.

He was also advised that he might be charged convalescent leave and would incur all medical costs if complications occurred. Additionally, he was advised that if he died during or after the operation, he would forfeit his serviceman’s group life insurance benefits.

The infantryman knew the risks associated with the procedure and conducted his own feasibility assessment. He researched the disease and consulted with a U.S. Naval medical officer to preclude a hereditary condition.

“At age five, my dad lost a kidney, but has since lived a healthy life,” he said in defense of his rational. “If I do develop problems later in life, donors in Michigan are considered top candidates for organ replacement.”

Later in 1998, the II Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General granted approval shortly before Plouhar deployed to the Mediterranean region with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The transplant was performed Jan. 9, which coincidentally is Plouhar’s grandmother’s birthday.

Plouhar was quoted in the Marine Corps News when the 3/5 deployed in January of this year:

Although the thought of being away from their loved ones wasn’t favorable, Operation Iraq Freedom veteran Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar said, “The job needs to be done.”

God bless this remarkable Marine and his family.

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