Gerald M. Bloomfield II – Major, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 1144-05
November 03, 2005

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Major Gerald M. Bloomfield II, 38, of Ypsilanti, Michigan
Captain Michael D. Martino, 32, of Fairfax, Virginia

Both Marines died November 2, 2005, when their AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed while flying in support of security and stabilization operations near Ar Ramadi, Iraq.  Both Marines were with Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, their unit was attached to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II MEF (Forward).

The crash is currently under investigation.

A helicopter crash in Iraq,claims the life of a Marine with roots in mid-Michigan. Major Gerald Bloomfield died on Tuesday while serving in Iraq. The Marine is a Fowlerville High School graduate who died after a crash in his Cobra helicopter.

Bloomfield’s family lives in Livingston County.

Kate Kerch, sister: “He was just passionate, passionate about everything.”

Passion was something major Gerald Bloomfield had in spades. As a kid in the 80s, he was known around Fowlerville as a daredevil, a  free spirit. His sisters remember once how Jerry, or Jer as they called him, got stuck with a friend on a frozen lake.

Kate Kerch: “They were doing donuts and the car went into the lake, and they just sat on the hood and laughed.”

But those who knew Jerry, also knew he was smart.

Paula Wallace, sister: “Smart, smart, smart.”

At Eastern Michigan University he earned double degrees in math and physics. Before graduating in ’89, he joined the Marines. Becoming and officer and eventually a pilot. Y ears later, married and with a son, he was a career military man who believed in the job he was doing in Iraq.

Paula: “By being there, he was protecting us and everything we have here.”

And he also believed in the freedom and the future of the country he was fighting in. He wrote about it in email sent home.

Kate: “It’s not a 3rd world country. I believe it has hope. He wanted them to experience some of the same freedoms we have here.”

And it’s his sisters wish that people who knew her brother in Fowlerville understand this, a s well as the people of Iraq and in the country he was so proud to defend. Major Bloomfield will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Published November 5, 2005
Family mourns Marine killed in Iraq
Fowlerville grad is school’s third casualty

FOWLERVILLE, MICHIGAN – Friends and family are remembering Gerald Bloomfield II as a good-natured, humorous man who was focused on his career as a Marine and loved every minute of it.

Bloomfield II, a 38-year-old Major, died Wednesday when his AH-1W Super Cobra heli- copter crashed about 70 miles west of Baghdad. The co-pilot, Captain Michael Martino, 32, of Fairfax, Virginia, also was killed.

Bloomfield II, of Ypsilanti, is the third Fowlerville High School graduate to have died in the war, joining Lance Corporals Michael Hanks and Andrew Kilpela.

“He would fly high and see the green and know things were changing,” his father, Gerald Bloomfield, said of his son’s experiences in Iraq. He’d see “power lines going up – all the stuff you don’t hear about in the news, all the good things going on. He was optimistic about a country coming back.”

Bloomfield II graduated from Fowlerville High School in 1984. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University and was on his third tour in Iraq.

Fun times remembered

His former band teacher, Terri Palazzolo, said she remembers Bloomfield II as a good kid who also was mischievous at times.

“When something funny happened, there was no question of who was behind it,” Palazzolo said.

“He never let an opportunity for a dare pass him by.”

Palazzolo said she recalled how Bloomfield II and some of his friends once toilet-papered her car, and another time during band “initiation” when older members turned him upside down and stuck him in a garbage can.

But Fowlerville’s Kraig Sacker said he was amazed at how much Bloomfield II had turned his life around when the two talked at their 20th class reunion in 2004.

“I sat down with him for a good 20 minutes to half-hour at the reunion,” Sacker said, “and what he has accomplished and done with his life is amazing.

“Having three (Fowlerville High School) people getting killed for doing their duty over there is tough, but listening to Jerry, he felt strongly it was for a good cause.”

The Livingston County community has a population of a little more than 3,100.

Bloomfield II received a score of accolades during his time with the Marines, which stretched back to 1989, including the Global War on Terror Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the National Defenses Service Medal.

He leaves behind a son, Ryan, 13; wife, Julie Bloomfield of White Pigeon; two sisters, Paula Wallace of Howell and Katy Kerch of Brighton; brother, Tom Bloomfield of Chelsea; mother Shirley Spears of Howell; and stepmother Judy Bloomfield of Ypsilanti.

‘You’re so unprepared’

“You always have that feeling in the back of your head it could happen, but when it happens, you’re so unprepared because you just don’t want to believe it,” Wallace said about her brother’s death. “It’s painful. It’s a huge life that had so much more to go. We’re just kind of standing here waiting for him to come back.”

No date has been set for funeral or memorial services, but his father said his son will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Hundreds attend memorial for Cobra pilots who died in Iraq


Julie Gill-Bloomfield, the widow of Major Gerald Bloomfield II, receives hugs at the conclusion
of the memorial service for both Bloomfield and Captain MIchael Martino

Nearly one week after burying him at Arlington National Cemetery and minutes after a memorial service at Camp Pendleton on Monday, Sybil Martino said she is convinced her fallen son, Captain Michael D. Martino, gave his life in war in a quest for peace.

“The Bible talks about peacemakers and I believe Michael was born to be a peacemaker,” Sybil Martino said as she sat at a table with her son’s dog tags around her neck. “He died doing what he loved and what he believed in.”

Martino, 32, and Major Gerald M. Bloomfield II were killed on November 2, 2005, when their Camp Pendleton-based AH-1W Cobra helicopter crashed during fighting near Ramadi, Iraq.

The pair were saluted during the 90-minute memorial attended by more than 200 Marines from their unit, Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, who gathered at the base’s Marine Memorial Chapel along with the men’s family members and friends.

Bloomfield, whose call sign was “Woody,” and Martino, whose call sign was “Oprah,” each were awarded posthumous Bronze Star medals for fighting off insurgents with missile and cannon attacks the day they died.

Seated by his wife’s side after the memorial, Martino’s father, Robert, said the days since his son’s death have been among the hardest he has ever faced, but quickly added that he is resolute in his belief that the United States should be in Iraq.

“I don’t want any parent to have to go through what me and my family are going through,” he said. “But the thing that bothers me and my family is that some of our elected officials want to cut and run and cutting and running is something my son never would have done. He understood the bigger picture.”

The squadron’s commander, Colonel Douglas Gough, recalled both Marines as great men of integrity who served as mentors to those around them.

“The streets of heaven are now guarded by two more of our finest Marines,” Gough said.

During his eulogy for Bloomfield, Major John Poehler, recalled the Oceanside resident as a squadron mate, next-door neighbor and friend for the last 12 years.

Bloomfield, who would have turned 39 on November 15, 2005, and who leaves behind his wife, Julie, and son, Ryan, died defending the goals of his nation, Poehler said.

Addressing Ryan Bloomfield, Poehler said: “I am in awe of the man who was your father. Tonight, I will toast my friend and remember not how he died, but how he lived his life. Semper Fi and farewell, my friend.”

The memorial service that packed the small chapel and filled rows of seats set up under two tents outside began with a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” and the showing of photos of a memorial service for Bloomfield and Martino conducted at their Iraqi air base. One of the shots showed a handwritten sign designating the base as “Bloomfield/Martino Field.”

During his eulogy to Martino, Sergeant Major Bill Skiles recalled spending 40 days with the 32-year-old graduate of the University of San Diego during fighting in Fallujah in the spring of 2004.

As he began telling a story of the fighting on one of those days, Skiles briefly broke down, and after catching himself told the gathering that “true warriors do cry.”

Regaining his composure, Skiles told the story of Martino calling in a 500-pound bomb air strike on a house full of insurgents. The bomb was on target, and the blast threw a goat and chicken toward where the Marines were hunkered down.

Skiles said the goat perished, but he, Martino and the young troops around them kept urging the chicken to move, to get up and show it was alive and it finally did.

“Me and Captain Martino high-fived,” Skiles recalled.

The crash of the men’s helicopter occurred during a day of heavy fighting about 70 miles west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Associated Press Television News quoted an Iraqi man as saying their aircraft was shot down by insurgents, the Pentagon has not given an official cause.

Each man was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

In a pastoral reflection concluding the memorial service, Marine Chaplain Eric Hoog said each man lived a dedicated and committed life.

“They saw fit to put on the uniform of their country and they died for it,” Hoog said. “They died for freedom.”

After the playing of “Taps” and conclusion of the service, those assembled gathered outside for a flyover of four Cobra helicopters, two of which broke off as they passed overhead signifying the loss of the two Marines.

As she spoke a few minutes after the flyover, Sybil Martino said her daughter, Lauri, is five months pregnant and that she and her son-in-law just learned the baby is a boy.

“They’re going to name my first grandchild Michael,” she said.

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