Saturday, March 24, 2007

Raymond J. Holzhauer killed in 'non-hostile' incident

DWIGHT - Five days later, the cause of the death of a Marine from Dwight is still not known. But his grandfather is aware that the young man will be missed.

James Fraher, Dwight, spoke with the Daily Leader Monday about the death of his grandson last week in Iraq and the many questions still left to be answered about how he died.

Raymond Holzhauer, 19, of Dwight, died Thursday in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He is believed to be the first Livingston County resident who died in Iraq during the war, which began five years ago.

"All we know about the circumstances of his death are that it occurred on his base in the armory building and 'not from enemy fire,'" said Fraher, the maternal grandfather of Holzhauer. "The military is conducting an investigation into the case. We were told that when he is brought back to the United States an autopsy will be conducted by the military and then his body will be released to the family. We don't, however, know when that will be."

Holzhauer would have turned 20 on May 15, exactly two months from the day he died.

Fraher said Holzhauer was last at home right after Christmas, when he spent nine days visiting friends and family.

"It was after this leave that he was deployed to Iraq. He just had not been in that country for very long," said Fraher.

"Our grandson was a great young man and I know I am biased," he said. "He was so proud to be a Marine."

Holzhauer signed up to become a Marine on the second day of classes at Dwight Township High School during his senior year.

"He had received wonderful support from the group from Dwight known as 'Support Our Soldiers.' This group sent him packages regularly even when he was still in the United States and since he went to Iraq," said Fraher. "Now this group and so many others in the Dwight community and Livingston County are reaching out to help all of us during this sad time.

"My grandson loved hunting and fishing and watching Dale Earnhardt Jr., racing. He had so many tentative plans for when he finished serving in the Marines. Now all we know for certain is that his funeral services will be here in Dwight at St. Patrick's Church, but we don't know when," he said.

From the Leader