Doug Zembiec was born on April 14, 1973, in Kealakekua, Hawaii. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991 and graduated and was commissioned a 2ndLt in the U.S. Marine Corps on May 31, 1995. After completing the Basic School and the Infantry Officer's Course, Zembiec was assigned to First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment. He completed Force Reconnaissance indoctrination in June 1997 and served with Second Force Reconnaissance Company at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Zembiec deployed to Kosovo during Operation Joint Guardian in June 1999 and in September 2000 he was transferred to the Amphibious Reconnaissance School at Fort Story, Virginia. He next attended the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Warfare School at Quantico, Virginia, graduating in May 2003. In July 2003, Captain Zembiec took command of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and then to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was nicknamed the "Lion of Fallujah" as a result of his heroic actions leading his company in battle during Operation Vigilant Resolve in 2004. In November 2004, he became assistant operations officer at the Marine Corps' First Special Operations Training Group. Maj Zembiac then transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division for a two year assignment with the CIA. While serving on his 4th tour of duty in Iraq, Major Zembiec was killed in action while leading a raid in Iraq on May 11, 2007. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Marine Advisor, Iraq Assistance Group, Multi-National Corps, Iraq, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 11 May 2007. Attacking from concealed and fortified positions, an enemy force engaged Major Zembiec's assault team, firing crew-served automatic weapons and various small arms. He boldly moved forward and immediately directed the bulk of his assault team to take cover. Under withering enemy fire, Major Zembiec remained in an exposed, but tactically critical, position in order to provide leadership and direct effective suppressive fire on the enemy combatant positions with his assault team's machine gun. In doing so, he received the brunt of the enemy's fire, was struck and succumbed to his wounds. Emboldened by his actions his team and supporting assault force aggressively engaged the enemy combatants. Major Zembiec's quick thinking and timely action to re-orient his team's machine gun enabled the remaining members of his unit to rapidly and accurately engage the primary source of the enemy's fire saving the lives of his comrades. By his bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty, Major Zembiec reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.