United States Marine Corps Corporal Kirk Bosselmann of Dickerson, MD, previously an Upper Montgomery County, MD, VFD member, died Nov. 27 in fighting in the city of Falluja, Iraq, according to a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
According to his close friend and Montgomery County firefighter Lieutenant Joe Brown, Bosselmann, 21, joined the fire department in December, 2000, enrolling in all of the entry level firefighting classes with the goal of eventually becoming a full-time firefighter. Taking an interest in wildland firefighting, he received his red card in Baltimore and graduated from the Montgomery County training program in July, 2001.
Shortly after graduation, Bosselmann read about smoke jumping on the internet and decided that he wanted to become a member of a smoke jumping crew. After locating a smoke jumping crew in the West that was looking for new members, he signed up and relocated only to discover after a few days that the training was extensive and too expensive for him, according to Brown.
Still intent on becoming a smoke jumper, Bosselmann learned that the U.S. Marine Corps offered jump training.
"Kirk was very patriotic and loved his country, but the incentive of getting free jump training was definitely a factor in his decision to join the Marines," Brown said.
Bosselmann joined the Marines in California and was put through basic training at Camp Pendleton in July, 2001.
After basic he was transferred back to the East Coast and stationed at Camp LeJeune, NC, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
According to Brown, Bosselmann took advantage of being on the East Coast by making the journey back to Montgomery County whenever he could to volunteer and spend time with old friends.
"I was a live-in member of Kentland 33 in Prince George's County at the time, and he would always come up and ride with us when he could," Brown said. "While he was around he would ask me to research different training programs for structural firefighting in Maryland. I think he still really wanted to become a smoke jumper, but he was also interested in returning to Maryland someday."
Bosselmann embarked on his first tour of duty after September 11, 2001 serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq as a mortar man in the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During that tour he was involved in the invasion of Iraq, taking part specifically in the battle for Baghdad Airport. While Bosselmann was away he would always write his family and friends in the Montgomery County Fire Department, and repeatedly checked the Kentland Company website for information on what was going on, according to Brown.
During this past summer, Bosselmann returned again to volunteer with the Montgomery County Fire Department, taking part in firefighter's week in Ocean City, MD.
"He stayed with me in the Kentland house in Ocean City and managed to develop a really strong bond with all the guys in the company," Brown said. "If you know anything about being a firefighter, you know breaking into the tight-knit group of a company isn't easy. It's not easy to be accepted by us, but Kirk's courage and commitment to his brothers was unmatched and it radiated in everything he did. He was such a free spirit; I think he would have taken up the opportunity to be a firefighter in Iraq if he hadn't joined the Marines."
A going away party for Bosselmann was held this past June before he returned to Camp Pendleton to start his second tour of duty in July. Before deployment to Iraq he was invited to become the member of the elite 1st Scouts Sniper Platoon, an opportunity he eagerly accepted.
"He was never scared to go back to Iraq," Brown said. "He was the bravest, most courageous person I've ever met. He never asked for any special recognition and he was embarrassed when he got it. He was very humble about all of his achievements. Most of all he was deeply committed to his brothers in the fire department and in the Marine Corps. That's why he went back, to protect them and to be with them. He would have done anything for them."