ST. LOUIS – A Gold Star father of a Missouri Marine killed in Kabul is speaking out about his family’s terrible loss.
It was a somber and silent ceremony as President Biden, the First Lady, the Defense Secretary, and others witnessed the dignified transfer at Dover Air Force base of the 13 service members killed in Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, Wentzville, was one of those marines. Schmitz’s father is heartbroken, but at the same time, proud of his son for making the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“When he comes home finally, it’s going to hit all of us. This is the calm before the storm,” Mark Schmitz said.
His father tried to hold back tears Wednesday as he recalled the U.S. Marine Corps arriving at his home to deliver the tragic news.
“I was completely stone face, it was a shock. They had to tell me 10 times before it sunk in. It’s the worst feeling in the world that you could ever imagine. As as soon as they left, I collapsed and starting crying,” Mark said.
Schmitz was deployed to Afghanistan from Jordan about two weeks prior to his death. This was his first deployment serving his country with pride.
”One thing you can take away from Jared’s life. He would have done anything for you and given you anything. That’s why he joined the Corps, that’s what they stand for,” Mark said.
Meanwhile, Fort Zumwalt South High School, where Schmitz graduated in 2019, held a moment of silence before last Friday night’s varsity football game.
Tributes continued to honor Schmitz with an outdoor billboard located along Westbound Interstate 70 in Wentzville.
“The outpouring support from the community and the nation, words cannot describe. It’s been phenomenal,” Mark said.
“Ronald Reagan quote sums everything up for me. ‘Some people will spend a lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world.’ Marines don’t have that problem. My son does not have that problem, he made a difference.”
The Schmitz family is expecting his body to return to St. Charles County in about a week and arrangements to honor him are in the works.
To make donations, visit the St. Louis Hero Network website.