Legendary Albuquerque marine died during CIA mission

Updated: 07/17/2014 10:26 AM | Created: 07/16/2014 7:10 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

We now know that a U.S Marine officer from Albuquerque who died heroically in Iraq was in fact working for the CIA.

Maj. Douglas Zembiec was serving in the ultra-elite, ultra-secret "Ground Branch" of the CIA's Special Activities Division when he lost his life while saving the lives of 25 other men in 2007.

Douglas Alexander Zembiec graduated from La Cueva High School in Albuquerque and went on to the U.S. Naval Academy and then the Marines, where he was legendary for acts of selfless courage like the one that ended his life in a dark alley in Sadr City, Iraq.

His fellow Marines called Zembiec the "Lion of Fallujah" for his bravery under fire. He was a warrior's warrior who always led from the front – the "tip of the spear" his wife Pam called it. In the first battle of Fallujah, he put his life on the line again and again, receiving the Bronze Star for valor.

Former U.S. Intelligence officials confirmed for the Washington Post that Zembiec joined the CIA Ground Branch in about 2005. On May 11, 2007, he was working on a "snatch and grab" mission with Iraqis to capture enemy insurgents. When he warned his men of an ambush, an insurgent shot him in the head killing him instantly. He was awarded the Silver Star for that.

Doug Zembiec was 34-years-old when he died, leaving behind his wife and a daughter. His mother and father still live in Albuquerque.

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