Battlefield cross dedicated to fallen marine and Preston, Iowa hero Zachary Reiff

PRESTON, Iowa — Over 100 people gathered to watch a dedication ceremony of a memorial statue in honor of Cpl. Zachary Reiff at Two Good Park on Sunday, November 20, 2016.

Cpl. Zachary Reiff, U.S. Marine Corps Weapons Platoon, 7th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Div. was serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan when he was mortally wounded by an IED explosion and died on November 21, 2011 at the age of 22.

The memorial statue is a battlefield cross and is a gift from America's Heartland Remembers, donated by Rick Randall Jr. and Thomas Rollins. The battlefield cross sits on top of a brick pedestal, which was constructed by a group of volunteers from Preston.

"When I see it I automatically think of him and the other marine that passed away with him," said Kolby Reiff, brother of Zachary who attended the memorial dedication with his family, including his sister Emily and parents Marcia and Matt Reiff.

The battlefield cross statue is designed to look like a marine's boots, helmet and rifle positioned in such a way that they form a cross.

"I think he would be pretty pumped up about it, but at the same time he'd be like, that's a little too much, but he would be excited about it I think," said Kolby Reiff, regarding what he thinks his brother would have thought about the statue dedication.

Gene Camp, a veteran gave the welcoming comments at the dedication.

"The bronze is, but a small symbol of a proud marine, and a hometown hero," said Camp.

Rick Randall and Tom Rollins also addressed the crowd.

"This is what makes America great," said Kolby Reiff, referring to the good turnout of people to the park, despite the chilly temps.

The battlefield cross is next to the Memorial Walk located in Two Good Park.

Cookies and hot chocolate were served following the memorial dedication.