Born: November 13, 1985
Fallen: August 10, 2008
Sergeant Michael Harvey Ferschke Jr. of Woonsocket, RI was assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan. On August 10, 2008, he became a RI fallen hero while supporting combat operations in Tikrit, Iraq.
Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke Jr was born in Woonsocket, RI and lived there for the first nine years of his life before his family moved to Maryville, TN — a town about 16 miles south of Knoxville. He was a 2003 Maryville High School graduate where he was an honors student in math. Michael was also involved in several of the drama performances. As a teenager, he was energetic and adventorous and liked riding BMD bikes and skiing. He enlisted in the Marine Corps immediately after graduating from high school and reported for Basic Training at Parris Island, SC in October of 2003. Sergeant Ferschke, who was a radio operator, completed a diving school while in the Marines and hoped to become a diving instructor.
Joining the Corps was what he wholeheartedly believed was his life’s destiny. His father said that he looked at all the other forces, “but that didn’t look like a challenge for him,” adding that “he loved his job and he loved what he was doing.” He had the option of finishing his service in the Marines in October but he declined, wanting to go to Iraq to do his part. Mike and his wife had been married only one month when he was killed in Iraq and they were expecting a child in January 2009. He was excited to become a father and talked a lot about the things that he wanted to share with his child.
His mother recalls that Michael was an energetic and adventurous teenager who liked extreme sports. 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.”
Michael had been deployed to Iraq since March 2008. The story of how he married his wife, Hotaru “Hota” Nakama has become a documentary titled “Second Battle”, highlighting the plight of his family. Since the couple were married by proxy, he was in Iraq and she was in Japan, about a month before he died, the U.S. immigration law does not recognize their marriage since their marriage was not consummated. As a result, Hota cannot remain in the U.S. to raise their son, Michael III.
Sergeant Ferschke’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. His 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 Michael Fersche Jr. became a fallen hero on August 10, 2008 in a gun battle that erupted during a house-to-house search in Iraq at the age of 22. He is survived by his mother, father, his wife, his brother, and his sister.