Two more Hawai'i Marines die in Iraq
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By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
By William Cole
The destructive firepower of the ubiquitous roadside bomb has claimed the lives of two more 21-year-old Hawai'i Marines in Iraq.
Their deaths bring to 11 the number of Hawai'i Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who have died in combat in Iraq's violent Anbar province since late September.
Lance Cpl. Mario D. Gonzalez of La Puente, Calif., and Lance Cpl. Michael D. Scholl of Lincoln, Neb., were killed on Tuesday. The death of Lance Cpl. Timothy W. Brown, 21, of Sacramento, who also died Tuesday, was reported earlier.
Family and friends said the three were killed and another Marine was injured by a roadside bomb near Haditha, northwest of Baghdad.
Asked yesterday how the family is coping, a distraught Donna Scholl, Michael Scholl's stepmother, put it in terms every parent can relate to:
"Do you have children? How would you feel if your child was dead?" Donna Scholl said from Nebraska. "You get by with it. You go minute to minute and you deal with it. I believe in what he was doing, and I'm honored by what he was doing. I love him for what he was doing and I don't like that he's gone, but I believe in our heavenly father, so. ... "
Scholl never got to see his baby daughter, Addison, who was born shortly after he left for Iraq in September.
A machine-gunner, Scholl had joined the Marine Corps in June 2004 and reported to Hawai'i later that year. He had served in Afghanistan from May 2005 to January 2006.
Donna Scholl said she didn't think her stepson wanted to make the Corps a career. In the short term, he just wanted to come back to his wife, Melissa, and daughter.
"When we went out (to Hawai'i) to visit (in May), we wanted to see some different attractions, and he hadn't even seen them," she said. "That wasn't important to him. It was being with his wife."
Michael Scholl was shy when he was young, but was outgoing later in life, his stepmother said. Scholl was part of a car club on the Mainland, and loved muscle cars.
"He loved life. He did practical jokes and fun things," Donna Scholl said. "He was phenomenal. He gave 110 percent no matter what he did."
More than half of the battalion's 11 fatalities have been from roadside bombs. At least two Marines were hit by snipers. In northern Iraq, Schofield Barracks officials say more than 900 roadside bombs are encountered each month.
The 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines from Kane'ohe Bay, the last of whom returned from Iraq on Oct. 5, experienced 11 deaths on a seven-month deployment to the area where the 2nd Battalion now is operating. Three Marines attached to the unit but who were home-based elsewhere also were killed.
The Hawai'i battalion's headquarters is at Haditha Dam, northwest of Baghdad, but Marines are spread throughout the "Triad" of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana near the Euphrates River and down to the Baghdadi-Jubbah-Dulab region.
Western Anbar province is considered the Sunni heartland and a major source of ongoing resistance to U.S. forces. Hawai'i Marines have called it an "exceptionally hostile" environment.
The top U.S. commander in the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, was asked by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday if Anbar province is under control.
"Al Anbar province is not under control, Senator," Abizaid said.
He revealed that about 2,200 Marines are headed from their ships in the Persian Gulf to an undisclosed location in Anbar province to help shore up U.S. combat power in the area.
The move is evidence of the severity of the conflict in Anbar. There already are about 30,000 U.S. troops in Anbar, which includes the trouble spots of Fallujah and Ramadi. The province stretches west from Baghdad to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Reach William Cole at email@example.com.