Barry Subelsky never knew Major Douglas A. Zembiec.
And until the Charleston, West Virginia, police chief found out about Zembiec's combat death in May from e-mail messages circulated in the law enforcement community, he had never heard about the Marine who came to be known as the "Lion of Fallujah."
But Subelsky was so moved by all he read about the unabashed warrior who celebrated the nobility of killing the enemy that he sent his officers inspirational principles found in a notebook that the Marine had with him when he died.
Subelsky then wrote Zembiec's parents to share how much their son's words had touched him, contributing to the hundreds of e-mails and letters that Donald and Jo Ann Zembiec have received from all over the country, many from people who never met their son.
Talk of his battle exploits has fast become the stuff of legend among U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen. In October, hundreds of Zembiec's academy classmates dedicated marathon runs and a triathlon to his memory.
In July, two months after Zembiec's death at age 34, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates grew tearful as he discussed the Marine in a speech.