12th Marine Regiment building on Okinawa named for captain who died in Iraq

5/23/2008 By Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Hlavac , III MEF
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan — In honor of Capt. Robert Secher, who was killed in October 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Marines of 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, dedicated Secher Hall, their fire-support training facility on Camp Hansen May 16.

“The Marines here handled the ceremony in an excellent and dignified manner, which really helps,” said Elke Morris, Secher’s mother, who attended the ceremony with his father, Dr. Herbert Secher.

“The Marines have been really supportive and friendly, which makes me still feel like I’m part of the Marine Corps family. I’m proud that this building has his name on it, but it represents more than just him. It also represents the thousands of service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.”

Secher’s story of sacrifice began when he reported to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, in February 2005 as the battalion’s assistant operations officer. He deployed to Iraq as a member of Military Transition Team 11, attached to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Secher was eager to serve with MiTT-11. He wanted to work alongside his friend, Capt. Robert Sellers and play a role in training and mentoring soldiers of an Iraqi infantry battalion operating in Hit, Iraq, according to Lt. Col. Victor Bunch, Secher’s team chief in Iraq and 3rd Marine Division’s assistant chief of staff for intelligence. It was a tough job. Advising the Iraqi Army involved close, daily contact with Iraqi soldiers and often included assisting in arranging and executing combat operations, he said.

Despite the hardships, it was a duty Secher took to eagerly, according to Bunch. Secher was always the first one to step up for an assignment and could be counted on to complete a task or give a thorough assessment of any situation. He was characterized as being tough and demanding, yet also compassionate and humble. Secher earned the respect of the Iraqi soldiers he dedicated himself to train, Bunch said.

But Oct. 8, 2006, tragedy struck.

Secher and Sellers, along with Iraqi soldiers were tasked to inspect the damage to a civilian structure caused by an insurgent mortar strike, Bunch said. Shortly after assessing the damage, they received a call to check out a nearby house where suspicious activity had just been observed. After cordoningoff the area, Sellers and Iraqi soldiers entered the house to search for and question its occupants. Meanwhile, Secher and other Iraqi soldiers established a security perimeter around the house to secure the position from an outside attack and prevent any attempted escape from within.

After a couple of minutes inside the house, Sellers heard an eruption of gunfire outside. He exited the house and found Secher wounded from an attack.

Following a brief gun battle, the insurgents fled and the MiTT-11 Marines turned their attention to Secher. They did their best to stabilize him and immediately rushed him to a medical evacuation site from which he was soon airlifted to Al Asad Airbase. Despite the efforts of the medical staff there, Secher succumbed to his wounds.

Bunch said Marines will benefit from Secher Hall in the years to come, but not as simply a training facility.
“While this building will be used to train many Marines down the road, it also represents the legacy of an individual and of the team,” he said. “As Marines train in this building, they will undoubtedly ask about its namesake and will learn the story of an amazing individual. This building is a monument to his sacrifice.”