AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Staff Sgt. David Menusa volunteered to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom like many other Marines.
But along with liberating the Iraqi people and helping rid the world of terrorism, other factors have brought the 32-year-old platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, to the urban battlefield here.
To honor his late brother, Joseph, and to find closure for his death three years ago were also motivations for Menusa to serve.
“Coming here was something I had to do for him and myself,” said the Tracey, Calif., native. “I came here to find peace.”
Joseph was serving as a platoon sergeant with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, during OIF I when he gave the ultimate sacrifice. Members of the Iraqi Army ambushed the amtrak the 33-year-old was riding in and killed him.
Menusa had discussed the harsh realities of war with his older brother prior to that fateful deployment in 2003.
“We talked before he left,” Menusa recalled. “He volunteered to deploy, and we both knew what could happen. The last thing he said to me was he’d be back.”
He did return home but not the way Menusa wanted.
Menusa was serving as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego when he learned of his brother’s death.
“I was angry,” he said. “I should’ve been with my brother in the war. I might’ve prevented his death. I could’ve at least been by his side.”
According to Menusa, prior to the start of the war he originally had orders to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and would’ve deployed with his older brother if not for a last-minute change.
“My orders got changed, and I was sent to the drill field,” he said. “There’s a lot of ‘what ifs,’ but I just feel like I should’ve been with him.”
When the chance to deploy was presented to Menusa, he jumped at the opportunity to go as a way to honor his brother.
“I specifically requested to leave the drill field six months early so I could come over here,” he explained. “I checked into (1st Battalion, 5th Marines), and here I am in Iraq. My brother volunteered, and I felt like I should too.”
His deploying didn’t set well with his family though.
“My mom definitely didn’t want me to come here,” he said. “She was against it and tried to get me to stay. She’s already lost one son and doesn’t want to lose another. I had to come, though. I just had to.”
Just like his fallen brother and comrade, Menusa will celebrate his 33rd birthday in Iraq. He’s also had some close calls of his own.
“We’d just finished searching a house and staff sergeant was escorting a detainee,” recalled Lance Cpl. Jordan B. Dana, a rifleman with 1st Platoon. “The people in the house started getting crazy and were going after staff sergeant, so I handled the situation.”
The 20-year-old from Boise, Idaho, raised his weapon at the seven angry Iraqis and deescalated the threatening situation.
Despite the loss of his brother, Menusa remains a motivated Marine, Dana explained.
“There’s no doubt that he’s dedicated to the Marine Corps,” he said. “He’s always focused on the mission, looking out for his Marines and works hard to accomplish the mission.”
After serving in Ramadi with the infantry battalion for close to three months, Menusa said he’s found the closure he wanted.
“I’ve realized that killing all the insurgents won’t bring my brother back,” he explained. “I’ve found my peace, but he’s still gone.”