One of the Iraq War’s hardest hit units, which lost 22 Marines and a corpsman on a single deployment, is being commemorated by a temporary exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va.
The exhibit, which commemorates the dead of Columbus, Ohio-based Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines — known as “Lucky Lima” when it deployed to Iraq in 2005 — will be open to the public from Feb. 20 through March 3. It consists of oil paintings of each of the 23 casualties created by Columbus-based artist Anita Miller. Together they comprise a touring exhibit called The Eyes of Freedom. Each painting is accompanied by the Marines’ names, basic biographical information, a candle for each, boots and space for visitors to leave mementos, according to a museum press release.
The unit suffered a staggering string of deaths while operating near Haditha, Iraq. Its Marines went miraculously unscathed for the first few months of their deployment, but the unit suffered its first of many casualties when two Marines were killed on May 8 of that year by enemy fire. By the end of the month, seven more were dead. In July two more Marines and a Corpsman were killed in action. But the unit’s darkest day came on Aug. 3 when 11 Marines riding in an amphibious assault vehicle were killed in a roadside bomb attack.
When Lima returned to Ohio in October of 2005, the unit was greeted by a 20-mile parade route of cheering supporters.