Based: Camp Lejeune, N.C.
2nd Assault Amphibious, 2nd Marine Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 23, 2003
Married, 4 children
High School: Hueneme High (Oxnard)
Of the U.S. Marines who died fighting on March 23 near Nasiriyah, Iraq, three -- Jorge Gonzalez, Michael Bitz and Randal Kent Rosacker -- were from California. Two were fathers, a third was a son who followed his father into the military. One was 31, settling into adulthood; the other two were barely 20. They left grieving parents, brothers, sisters and children -- including a set of twins and a 3-week-old baby who had never met their fathers.
In the last year, it looked as if Michael Bitz was on a track other men would envy.
He had renewed his vows with his wife, Janina, and the couple were expecting twins. A sergeant in the Marines, he loved his job so much that he reenlisted last fall. At 31, he was entering his prime -- a reckless, rootless kid turned responsible father of four and career military man.
On Tuesday, his mother reminisced about him as a single candle burned on the dining-room table in her Ventura home. In their last telephone call, he told his mom how much he loved her. In his last letter to her, he said he was her warrior.
Donna Bellman's home was awash in television crews and sympathetic neighbors. A wreath of red, white and blue ribbon hung on the door.
Bellman was tired and drawn but eager to talk about the son she would never again see and the month-old twins he never got to hold.
"Caleb and Taylor," she said, her voice trailing off. "He had to ship out about six weeks before they were born."
Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Sergeant Michael Edward Bitz (and Gonzalez and Rosacker) here, find more at Fallen Heroes and Military Times.
Visit Sergeant Michael Edward Bitz's Guest Book.
|A member of the North Dakota Patriot Guard pauses in reflection at the conclusion of the recognition ceremony which added three service members to the North Dakota Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism. The three were Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, United States Marine Corps, who was killed in action on March 23, 2003 at Nasiriya, Iraq, Spc. Keenan A. Cooper and Pfc. Jonathan C. Yanney, United States Army. The ceremony was on Sept. 11, 2010 in Bismarck, N.D. (Photo by Spc. Jessica Raasch, North Dakota National Guard)|
|Jorge Alanso Gonzalez|
|Randal Kent Rosacker|
|Keenan A. Cooper|
|Jonathan C. Yanney|