Clarks Marine killed in Iraq
By ABIGAIL ROSE ANSON/Telegram Correspondent
CLARKS - From a local hero on the basketball court to a national hero in the U.S. Marines, Brent Zoucha will be remembered with pride by everyone whose lives he touched.
The 19-year-old soldier from Clarks was killed last week in Iraq when the Humvee he was riding in exploded after hitting a land mine. His mother, Rita Zoucha, learned of her son's death on Friday.
Brent's brother, Dyrek, who was serving in the same unit in Iraq, was not hurt in the explosion. Dyrek is on his way back to Clarks, as is Brent's body, which is being flown here from Iraq., via Dover, Del. Funeral and memorial services are pending.
“Basically Brent was an all-American boy that any parent would be proud of. He was very respectful and polite,” said family friend and spokesman David Beck of Clarks. “It was his calling to be in the service. ... He had a lot of pride for his country and desired to serve as a Marine.”
After graduating from High Plains Community High School in 2005, Brent left Clarks one year ago today to follow in his brother's footsteps in the Marines. He left for Iraq in February and was recently promoted to lance corporal.
Throughout high school Brent was a local hero because of his success as an athlete, excelling in basketball and track. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Brent led the High Plains basketball team to a 17-5 record his senior year when he averaged 13.6 points per game and 10.7 rebounds. He was selected to play in the Columbus Telegram/Central Community College All-Star basketball game in 2005.
He was also an accomplished track and field star. He helped High Plains to a third place showing in Class D in 2005 by taking second in both the high jump and the 400 meter relay. In 2004, he tied for third in the high jump and was second in the 400 meter relay.
In addition to his love for basketball and track, he also enjoyed fishing and hunting.
Beck described the Zoucha family as fiercely competitive, “Second place just wasn't an option. I believe this drive to succeed is what led him to the Marines.”
“Brent was my best friend, and this hurts more than anyone could imagine,” said Levi Lindburg, from Polk. “I try to remember the good times. He loved joking around and having a good time.”
Beck said Megan Hammond, Brent's girlfriend from Hordville, is having a rough time dealing with Brent's death.
“They were the picture perfect couple - the homecoming queen and the Marine. She was waiting for him to get home,” Beck said. “This has devastated our communities but I don't think it will really hit us until Brent is actually home.”
Many people in the small communities were flying their flags at half-staff on Sunday, which Beck said was a much appreciated gesture.
“Brent would want people to be proud of him. His friends, family and the communities of Clarks, Polk and Hordville are extremely proud of everything Brent accomplished in his life,” Beck said.
Brent's oldest brother, Dominic, also wanted to enlist in the Marines but couldn't because of a shoulder injury he received in high school football. He also had a sister, Sherri, a brother-in-law, Jerod, and a nephew, Beau.