Zimmer Biomet honors Fribley ahead of Memorial Day

 Pictured (L to R) are Tabatha McDonald, Zimmer Biomet’s corporate social responsibility manager; Gateway Educational Center Principal Dave Bailey; Zimmer Biomet Veterans’ Resource Group Chairman Dale Campbell and Kosciusko County Community Foundation CEO Stephanie Overbey. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
By Jackie Gorski

WARSAW — U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. David Fribley was recognized Thursday during Zimmer Biomet’s annual Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony.

The event was hosted by the Zimmer Biomet’s Veterans Resource Group at the Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavillion.

Guest speaker Command Sgt. Major Dale Shetler gave a history of Memorial Day.

The origins of Memorial Day can be traced back 160 years to the aftermath of the Civil War. Starting in 1865, people started holding ceremonies honoring Union and Confederate soldiers who died in combat.

The first national observance of Memorial Day, then known as Decoration Day, was held in 1968 and was a time to decorate the graves and hold ceremonies for the fallen.

The name Memorial Day wasn’t commonly used until after World War II, where over 400,000 American service members died during that war. Over time, Memorial Day became the third national holiday, honoring all Americans who died while serving in the military. It wasn’t until 1971 when Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and made it the last Monday in May.

Shetler said he wanted to take a moment and thank all those in attendance at Thursday’s event that served in the military or are currently serving, as well as anyone who has lost a loved one that served.

“We are humbled by your sacrifice” and they showed demonstrations of courage and strength, he said.

Every year as a nation, “We must never forget the price that was paid to protect our democracy. And we do. On Memorial Day, we make a special point to remember that. And it never gets easier,” Shetler said.

Master of ceremonies Col. James Waldrop said a Gold Star Family indicates that a member of that family was lost during combat operation.

“Today, we honor the parents of Marine Lance Cpl. David K. Fribley,” Waldrop said. Fribley made the ultimate sacrifice on March 23, 2003.

Following the Sep. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Fribley enlisted in the Marines.

Fribley was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was one the first soldiers to die in combat.

Like countless others before him, gave his life in a combat zone protecting American freedoms, Waldrop said. “Today, we honor his service and his family’s sacrifice to this nation.”

David Bailey, principal at Gateway Education Center, who was representing the Fribley family, talked about Fribley.

Bailey called Fribley quiet and gentle who dominated the weight room at school. He grew up on a farm in Atwood. He was the oldest of three born to Gary and Linda. Bailey played football with Fribley. In high school, Fribley continued to excel in football and track. 

Fribley went to Indiana State University and continued with track.
Bailey said he first met Fribley in middle school.

“In middle school, you could tell there was something special about David, and the key was that nobody was going to outwork him,” said Bailey. “He was an amazing athlete and person.”

Bailey said the loss of David was unthinkable and crushing to our town, but even in death, Fribley didn’t back down from a challenge. He began to inspire others.
Fribley Field at RichardsonDuBois Park in Warsaw was dedicated in Fribley’s memory in 2004.

Zimmer Biomet Foundation donated $10,000 to the Kosciusko County Community Foundation, with the check being placed in the Lance Corporal David Fribley Memorial Scholarship fund.