STEPHENVILLE, TX, USA
SSGT, B CO, 2D RECON BN, (RCT-5, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
ZAIDON, IRAQ 09/20/2006
Childhood friends Christopher Zimmerman and Tomas Natal promised one another that if anything should ever happen to them, they would comfort each other’s family.
On Thursday, Natal was working to fulfill that promise during a service remembering his 28-year-old friend at United Heritage Center at the Dell Diamond. Zimmerman, a staff sergeant with the Marines, was killed Sept. 20 during combat operations in the Al Anbar province in Iraq.
He never liked anyone being bullied around, Natal said in a story in Friday’s Austin American-Statesman. There are no words to describe how great a guy he was.
During the service, Zimmerman’s family received the state flag that was flown at the Texas Capitol in the soldier’s memory. And the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that pays tribute to fallen soldiers, held 50 American flags along the entrance.
Friends say Zimmerman liked working on cars, doing motocross and playing sports. As kids, he and Natal lived on the same street and the two would fight at the bus stop. Until one day they decided to become friends and remained close into adulthood, Natal said.
Zimmerman graduated from McNeil High School in 1996, where he played on the football team. He joined the Marines in 1997 and served as the flight chief of Huey helicopters at Camp Pendleton in California. After completing a five-year stint, he served in the Marine Reserves. He rejoined the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, going on to serve tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The last time Natal and Zimmerman saw each other was in April, before Zimmerman left for Iraq. I told him take care and God bless, Natal said. He was a unique man. He’ll always be our hero.