Friday, August 13, 2010

Marine Staff Sgt. Michael A. Bock

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Staff Sgt. Michael A. Bock, 26, of Leesburg, Fla.

SSgt. Bock was assigned to 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died Aug. 13, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations.

No matter what time of day it was or where he was in the world, Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Bock always put his family first.

A Valentine's Day didn't go by without Bock sending his wife roses, even while she was back home and he was overseas.

The 26-year-old made sure to get up in the middle of the night recently while in Afghanistan, so he could get online and watch his 3-year-old son, Zander, blow out his birthday candles.

“He was such a wonderful husband and an excellent father,” said Tiffany Bock, 27, of Omaha. “Family was always the first thing on his mind.”

She said her husband, a member of the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, was shot and killed Friday in Afghanistan. No other details were available.

Michael Bock was the third Omaha-area service member to die in the fighting in Afghanistan.

Bock grew up in Springfield, Neb., and attended Elkhorn Mount Michael High School for two years. Then his mother retired from teaching at Omaha Northwest High School. The family moved to Leesburg, Fla., where his father had a job. Bock graduated from Leesburg High School in 2002. About a month after graduating, he started boot camp.

“He wanted to be a good provider for his family, and he thought the military was the best way to do that,” Tiffany Bock said.

Louis Sojka, Bock's religion teacher at Mount Michael, remembered his former student as someone who carved his own path. “He worked hard, and he didn't go with the main crowd,” Sojka said. “He did his own thing and found his own way.”

Mount Michael teachers and coaches cling to photos and memories of fallen soldier, former student and athlete, 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Michael Bock.

Terry Buschleman taught and coached at Mount Michael, where Bock attended his first two years of high school. He says he couldn't believe the news of Bock's death. "It hit hard," Buschleman said. "I mean when my daughter told me it hit hard. I just slumped in my chair and I go 'Damn. Why is it the good ones?'"

Buschelman was Bock's soccer coach. He said by Bock's sophomore year of high school, he had moved Bock from the Freshman squad to play on the Varsity team. "He always wanted to better himself and when he was doing it wrong, he wanted to know how to do it right and I guess, that's where it stands out," Buschelman remembers.

He says Bock always played like he had something to prove, a concept Buschelman says Bock carried on into the rest of his life.

"To go into the Marine Corps, it was like he was saying, 'I can do this I'm going to show everybody I can do this,'" said Buschelman.

Buschelman, a retired Marine, says he's extremely proud of Bock. "I think that he did his duty honorably," Buschelman said. "He did it to save other Marines and to save his country." Buschelman admits he sometimes wonders if he influenced Bock to join the Marines. "You don't know," he said. "I know I wore the Marine Corps when I was out there (coaching)."

He says Bock's death is a loss to everyone. "I'm going to miss him. His fellow Marines are going to miss him. His family's going to miss him because it's such a great loss. He will never be forgotten," Buschelman said.

Bock was stationed mostly at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, but he was deployed twice to Iraq and most recently to Afghanistan in April. Bock also served in Australia and Indonesia, and he received a Marine Corps humanitarian ribbon for his help during the tsunami recovery in 2004. He re-enlisted in the Marines twice.

“He was proud to serve his country,” his wife said. “But no matter what he was doing, even when he was working 16-hour days, he would still call and tell us he loved us.”

Michael Bock and Tiffany Scheiblhofer were high school sweethearts. He attended Mount Michael, and she went to Omaha Mercy. They met at a high school football game through mutual friends. When Bock moved to Florida, the couple stayed in touch and made their long-distance relationship work. Tiffany loved everything about Mike. He was outgoing and had a lot of friends.

When he was a sophomore and Tiffany a junior, the couple performed together in Mount Michael's production of the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

The couple, married in 2003, had been together for almost 11 years. They planned to buy a home in Omaha. “He just wanted to come home and be with his family,” said Tiffany, a homemaker and student in Metro Community College's culinary arts program.

Marine Staff Sgt. Michael A. Bock was killed in action on 8/13/10.

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