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Photo by Capt. Mark Montoya

Cleveland Browns support II MEF Wounded Warriors

28 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich

Two Marines from the Injured Support Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, traveled to the National Football League Cleveland Browns' training facility in Berea, Ohio, Aug. 18-28, to observe the football team during preseason work-ups. The Marines sat in during the Cleveland Browns’ practices and attended two preseason games.

The Browns’ invitation carried on a tradition started by the former owner of the team, Al Lerner, a self-made billionaire who previously served as a Marine officer before purchasing the team in 1998.  After his death in 2002, Lerner’s son, Randolph, inherited his father’s enterprise, and along with it, robust support for the military.

Corporal Daniel Garcia-Ibarra and Lance Cpl. Peter Dmitruk, were selected to be guests of Lerner, in an exhibition of appreciation for their service to the nation.  Garcia-Ibarra and Dmitruk were both injured in Iraq while fighting the Global War on Terrorism.

Garcia-Ibarra served with Battery G, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, in Iraq and was injured January in a seven-ton truck rollover, damaging his leg and back.

Dmitruk served with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, until he was hit by a mortar October 2005, suffering massive injuries to his right arm.

Supporting the Corps is something both Lerners have always been passionate about. Randolph jumped at the opportunity to invite the two recuperating Marines from the Wounded Warrior Barracks on Camp Lejeune, N.C., to lift their spirits and get his players excited about the upcoming season.

This is the second year the Browns have invited injured Marines to join them on their practice field.

Garcia-Ibarra and Dmitruk spent 10 days at the Browns training facility where they observed daily practices and lodged with the team at night.

The Marines also attended two preseason games. The first game featured the Browns taking on the Detroit Lions, a contest the Browns won, 20-16.  During the second game, against the Buffalo Bills out of New York, the Browns recorded another victory, 20-17.