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Welcome to the United States Hotaru and Mikey Ferschke

More on the saga of the wife and son of fallen Marine Michael Ferschke. From Stars and Stripes-

On Friday, Hotaru Ferschke, the Okinawa widow of a Marine killed in Iraq last summer, and Michael H. Ferschke III, the son he never saw, will fly to Maryville, Tenn., to start their new life.

After a memorial service for Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr., 22, at the base chapel last Friday, Mikey, as the family is calling him, gurgled peacefully and stared up at his mother and grandparents as they expressed their excitement -- and apprehension -- about the 6-week-old baby's future.

"This whole trip has been a little bit of everything -- beautiful, touching, emotional, heart-rending, happy and terribly sad," said Robin Ferschke, Mikey's grandmother.

"Originally, this trip was planned to be a reunion with Michael and his wife and new son," she said.

But Sgt. Ferschke, a team leader with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, was killed Aug. 10 while conducting house-to-house searches in a town north of Baghdad. It was just a month after he married Hotaru by proxy.

Hotaru or Hota for short, has decided to raise Mikey in the place his father grew up in. She lost her husband but wants to keep his legacy alive by raising their son where he grew up.

It isn't easy either as Robin Ferschke, explains.

After her husband's death, Hotaru surprised her mother-in-law by deciding to move to Maryville and raise Mikey where his father was raised.

"It was something I prayed for but dared not ask," Robin said. "No other woman would do what she is doing."

Marriage, the death of her husband, pregnancy and having to fight with consular and immigration officials. Hotaru was through so much, but by this time next week she'll be in Tennessee.

"As he grows, Mikey looks more and more like his father," Hotaru said. "His toes, fingers and now the chin." She said she will miss Okinawa, but she is excited about the new phase in her life.

"Yes, I do feel nervous about moving to the States, but at the same time, I know that I have my mother-in-law, father-in-law, family and all the friends there who will always stand behind me and support me," she said. "It is a great sense of security."

By raising her son in Tennessee, she hopes he will grow to become like his father.

"I want our son to grow up to know how wonderful and caring man his father was, who was loved by so many people," she said. "I want him to grow up to be a kind, honest and strong man like his father."

Robin Ferschke calls Hotaru a wonderful Mommy. She certainly sounds like it. God bless her, Mikey, and the rest of the Ferschke family.

Hotaru's immigration battle is not over. She is coming to the US on a one year visa. Congressman John Duncan and Senator Lamar Alexander will file a private bill for the mother. Lets hope that works out, or the morons at CIS reverse their initial decision to deny Hotaru a green card. Michael Ferschke gave his life for this country and his fellow Marines, we owe his wife no less than the right to live here as long as she wishes.

I'm putting today's Stars and Stripes article about Hotaru's trip to the US and another about the ceremony honoring her husband beneath the fold. They are both worth reading in their entirety.

Marine's widow, baby to start new life in Tennessee

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa -- For Mikey and his mom, the journey is almost over.

Or is it just beginning?

On Friday, Hotaru Ferschke, the Okinawa widow of a Marine killed in Iraq last summer, and Michael H. Ferschke III, the son he never saw, will fly to Maryville, Tenn., to start their new life.

After a memorial service for Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr., 22, at the base chapel last Friday, Mikey, as the family is calling him, gurgled peacefully and stared up at his mother and grandparents as they expressed their excitement -- and apprehension -- about the 6-week-old baby's future.

"This whole trip has been a little bit of everything -- beautiful, touching, emotional, heart-rending, happy and terribly sad," said Robin Ferschke, Mikey's grandmother.

"Originally, this trip was planned to be a reunion with Michael and his wife and new son," she said.

But Sgt. Ferschke, a team leader with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, was killed Aug. 10 while conducting house-to-house searches in a town north of Baghdad. It was just a month after he married Hotaru by proxy.

After her husband's death, Hotaru surprised her mother-in-law by deciding to move to Maryville and raise Mikey where his father was raised.

"It was something I prayed for but dared not ask," Robin said. "No other woman would do what she is doing."

She smiled and hugged Hotaru as Mikey drained a bottle of formula. "She's such a good and loving mommy," she said.

There is, however, a cloud hanging over Hotaru's future. The State Department has denied her application for residency because the marriage by proxy was never consummated. Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, marriage by proxy must be consummated to be recognized for immigration purposes.

"We have the support of many people back home, including our government representatives," Robin said. She said Tennessee Republicans Rep. John Duncan and Sen. Lamar Alexander have agreed to introduce legislation to legalize the proxy marriage, and recognize proxy marriages under unique circumstances.

Meanwhile, Hotaru has a visa good for one year.

Robin Ferschke and her husband, Michael, arrived on Okinawa earlier this month to escort Mikey and his mom home. While they were here, they got to meet their son's other family.

"The Marines have treated us like a king and queen," Robin said. "Anything we need, we got."

Her son joined the Marines when he was 17 and would always refer to the Corps as his second family, Robin said.

"Now we can see why," she said. "The memorial they had today was very special," she said. "You could feel the love in the church. And the Marines, especially the ones who served with Michael -- well, we know now that little Mikey has, many, many uncles.

"What the Marines have done for us, not just here but also back home, it's helped us deal with Michael not being here," she said.

Her husband said all the attention the family's been getting has been "amazing."

"We've always done things for ourselves and hate to ask anyone for anything," he said. "So, to be treated like this -- I can only say the Marines are really super people." He said Mikey will have a lot of cousins close to his own age. The Ferschkes have five other grandchildren, all under the age of 7.

"We have a very close family," he said. "Everyone's looking forward to seeing him."

And what they see will remind them of their son, the Ferschkes said. "The first thing I noticed was Mikey's lips," Robin said. "They're just like Michael's; he had the cutest kissable lips. And the hairline, we saw that, too."

"Just looking at him, you see Michael," Mikey's grandfather said. "But what I like is that he's the only one of the grandchildren to have his grandfather's brown eyes."

"As he grows, Mikey looks more and more like his father," Hotaru said. "His toes, fingers and now the chin." She said she will miss Okinawa, but she is excited about the new phase in her life.

"Yes, I do feel nervous about moving to the States, but at the same time, I know that I have my mother-in-law, father-in-law, family and all the friends there who will always stand behind me and support me," she said. "It is a great sense of security."

By raising her son in Tennessee, she hopes he will grow to become like his father.

"I want our son to grow up to know how wonderful and caring man his father was, who was loved by so many people," she said. "I want him to grow up to be a kind, honest and strong man like his father."

and

Marines and family gather to recall sergeant who saved comrade's lives

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa -- Tears as well as chuckles filled the small chapel here Friday during a memorial service for Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr.

More than 150 Marines, Ferschke's parents, his widow and infant son gathered in the chapel to remember the 3rd Reconnaissance Marine killed Aug. 10 in Iraq.

The 22-year-old from Maryville, Tenn., was killed during a firefight in Salah ad Din province. He was credited with saving lives by drawing enemy fire to himself when his recon team entered a building where insurgents had holed up.

The sergeant's parents, Michael and Robin Ferschke, and his widow, Hotaru Ferschke, wiped away tears during a short video of Ferschke in training and in Iraq.

Ferschke was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with V for valor following the memorial service. The battalion's commander presented both Hotaru and Ferschke's parents a citation and medal.

Afterward, Robin and Hotaru leaned against each other for support as Marines hugged them and thanked them for their sacrifice.

During the service, emotional teammates shared humorous stories about Ferschke -- the tough Marine with the funny-shaped head and big heart.

"Mike is still with us today and will continue to be with us," Capt. Christopher Melton said. "As long as you share your memories of Mike, he will never be forgotten."

Gunnery Sgt. Robert J. Blanton -- recently awarded a Silver Star for his actions during the same fight that ended Ferschke's life -- talked about the bracelet he and others wear in Ferschke's honor.

"When I first put the bracelet on, I thought I was wearing it to remember Mike," Blanton said, pausing to compose himself. "But then I realized I wear it as a reality check."

The wristband is a reminder to enjoy life, he explained.

Blanton then promised Ferschke's wife and son, who was born after Ferschke died, that he would "strive to maintain the tremendous reputation that Mike has set."

Sgt. Alexander E. Tice, the point man on Ferschke's team, especially remembers the last time he saw his team leader -- just moments before they entered the building where he died.

For some reason, he said, Ferschke had jumped to the team's point to be the first into the building.

"He turned to me and smiled and said, 'Let's do this boys,' " Tice said.


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Comments (5)

A fitting memorial... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


A fitting memorial for a good man.

I truly hope all the best f... (Below threshold)
John:

I truly hope all the best for Hotaru and little Michael.

What a beautiful picture! ... (Below threshold)
Tammy:

What a beautiful picture! They lost their dear son, but they now have a daughter and grandson in their son's image. They're blessed to have each other and I'm sure little Mikey will learn about his brave daddy and grow up to make him proud.

God Bless you, Hotaru. Mike... (Below threshold)
Janet:

God Bless you, Hotaru. Mikey is so lucky to have you for a Mommy. You are, indeed, doing your husband's memory proud. Your husband was a true American hero, and this is where Mikey needs to be raised. I pray that immigration will do the right thing.

Thank you Bill. Nice piece.... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

Thank you Bill. Nice piece.

Mikey's gonna be a great American, just like his Dad and Mom.




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