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Marine Cpl. Zachary C. Reiff

Died November 21, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

22, of Preston, Iowa, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died Nov. 21 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations.

Friends, superiors recall slain Marine

By Daniel P. Finney
The Des Moines (Iowa) Register

A Marine from Preston, Iowa, died Nov. 21 at a hospital in Germany from injuries suffered three days earlier in Afghanistan.

An improvised explosive device blew up and mortally wounded Zackery C. Reiff, 21, who was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Reiff’s brother, Kolby Reiff, told Preston school officials his brother died Nov. 21, said Dave Miller, Preston High School principal. Their parents, Marcia and Matt Reiff, flew to Germany on Nov. 19 to be by their son’s side.

Zackery Reiff graduated from Preston High School in 2007 where he played football, wrestled and ran track.

“He was a well-built young man who kept himself in good condition,” said Miller, the longtime high school principal who coached Reiff’s father in football decades before. “He was a good person who did his own thing and never caused anybody trouble.”

Reiff, whose mother works as a teacher’s aide for the school district, returned to Preston in September and spoke to several classes about his experiences as a Marine.

“He was proud to serve his country,” Miller said.

Soon after word of Reiff’s injuries became public, friends created a “Prayer Page for Zach Reiff ‘A True Hero’ ” on Facebook.

More than 1,000 comments filled the page, beginning as prayers for his recovery and ending with sorrowful tributes to the fallen Marine and friend.

Posters recalled Reiff kept in touch with friends in Preston, a Jackson County city of about 1,000 in northeast Iowa, by Skype.

Rachel Mahoney recalled a night she and others performed a silly dance for Reiff via Skype.

“I remember you told me it was cute when it really wasn’t,” Mahoney wrote. “You always knew how to put a smile on my face and knew all the right things to say. You were always worried about hurting me if you never came back and you were right, it does hurt.”

Friend Tara Jaci Sue Cook recalled a pair of Preston track sweat pants Reiff loaned her and how she would never be able to return them.

“I wish there was a way you could see how loved you are, but apart of me knows you already know,” she wrote. “It’s times like these that make me remember to always leave someone you love and care about with loving words. You never know when it will be your last good bye.”

Maloney wrote one of Reiff’s favorite songs was by the band Rise Against, a ballad called “Hero of War,” which contains the lyrics: “I’ll carry this flag to the grave if I must. Because it’s a flag that I love and a flag that I trust.”

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