IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 2, 2004
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of eight Soldiers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on April 29, 2004, in Baghdad, Iraq, while part of a dismounted improvised explosive device sweep patrol, when a vehicle approached their unit, and the driver detonated a bomb. All Soldiers were assigned to the Army’s 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany. Killed were:
Staff Sergeant Esau G. Patterson, Jr., 25, of Ridgeland, South Carolina
Staff Sergeant Jeffrey F. Dayton, 27, of Caledonia, Mississippi
Sergeant Ryan M. Campbell, 25, of Kirksville, Missouri
Specialist James L. Beckstrand, 27, of Escondido, California
Specialist Justin B. Schmidt, 23, of Bradenton, Florida
Private First Class Ryan E. Reed, 20, of Colorado Springs, Colorado
Private First Class Norman Darling, 29, of Middleboro, Massachusetts
Private First Class Jeremy Ricardo Ewing, 22, of Miami, Florida
The incident is under investigation.
Spc. Justin Schmidt, 23, of Bradenton, was killed April 29 while serving in Iraq. He was the second Bradenton resident to die while serving in the war.
School, friends mourn Schmidt
Herald Staff Writer
BRADENTON, Florida – A melancholy mood swept through the typically cheerful halls at Harllee Middle School on Monday morning.
Children at the Bradenton school were greeted with the news that one of the school's former students, Army Specialist Justin Schmidt, died Thursday in Iraq.”You just stop and think: He was just walking through these halls not too long ago,” said Principal Guy Davis, who was a dean at the school when Schmidt was a student there from 1993 to 1995.
“This morning we made the announcement, then we had a moment of silence and played Taps,” Davis said.
The school plans to display a plaque honoring Schmidt at the school. It will be placed beside another memorial plaque, that of Marine Pfc. Christopher Cobb, another Harllee alumnus, who died serving in Iraq on April 6, 2004.
The Department of Defense announced Sunday the deaths of eight soldiers in Baghdad, including Schmidt, 23, who grew up in Bradenton.
Pentagon reports state the soldiers died on April 29, while conducting a sweep in search of improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs. A vehicle approached the Army unit, and the driver detonated a bomb, according to the Department of Defense. All the soldiers who died were assigned to the Army's 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, based in Baumholder, Germany.
Jan Schmidt, of Bradenton, said funeral services for her grandson are being planned for May 14, 2004, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. May 13 would have been Justin Schmidt's 24th birthday. He was to be married May 19 to a woman he met while stationed in Germany.
But he found out that his tour was extended and had to postpone his wedding.
Jan Schmidt's eyes welled with tears when she learned a memorial plaque with her grandson's photo would be placed at the school.
“We're just heartbroken,” Jan Schmidt said Monday.
Jan Schmidt said she and her husband, John, have been deluged with media requests for interviews. Justin Schmidt's father, Victor, who works for a boat builder in North Carolina, and Justin's older brother, Jason, 25, are expected to arrive in Bradenton today, she said.
The family is tentatively planning a local memorial service at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church on Cortez Road. No date or time had been scheduled Monday afternoon, church officials said.
Justin Schmidt's mother, Lenore Roberts of Minnesota, and Justin's fiancee also are expected to travel to Florida for the local memorial service, according to Victor Schmidt.
Justin Schmidt attended Daughtrey Elementary before going to Harllee Middle School. He went on to attend Bayshore High School, where he was a member of Junior ROTC during ninth and 10th grades, according to Junior ROTC instructor Col. Larry Burnette. He later transferred to Manatee High where he graduated in 1998.
“He was a good man and noble friend,” said Ryan Beggy, who was a friend and classmate of Justin Schmidt's at Bayshore High.
Beggy said that even though he had lost touch with Schmidt in recent years, he was deeply saddened by his death.
Justin Schmidt was one of the last soldiers killed in April, the deadliest month for the U.S. military in Iraq. In April, 136 American troops were killed in action in Iraq, according to The Associated Press.
Service set for MHS grad killed in Iraq
MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA — A memorial service for Justin Schmidt, a Manatee High School graduate who was killed last week while fighting in Iraq, is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 6101 Cortez Road.
Schmidt, 23, graduated fromManatee High School in 1998. He joined the Army in December 2001. His tour in Iraq was to have ended in mid-April, but it was extended another three months.
Schmidt, a Specialist in the Army, was killed April 29, 2004, along with seven other soldiers. They were members of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division.
Schmidt will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a service scheduled for 3 p.m. May 14, 2004.
‘A beautiful young life'
Mourners honor Bradenton soldier
Army Specialist Justin Schmidt will never return to Bradenton, the hometown where he was raised.
But Tuesday family members of the fallen soldier reunited at Bradenton's Kirkwood Presbyterian Church to honor him along with hundreds of friends and supporters.
At the church's sanctuary, Justin's gold-framed photo sat beside a folded American flag and was surrounded by flowers.
“He was very proud to serve his country,” said uncle Damon Schmidt to the mourners gathered at the memorial service.
He described his nephew as a “kindhearted and loving guy.
“Justin Bryan Schmidt. A beautiful young life. A boy who chose an honorable path and had only started down his road as a man,” Damon Schmidt said.
Justin's mother, Lenore Roberts, traveled from her home in Bagley, Minn. His father, Victor, and Justin's older brother, Jason, came from their home in Lake Lure, N.C. His grandparents, Jan and John Schmidt of Bradenton, also attended the service.
The Department of Defense announced May 2 the deaths of eight soldiers in Baghdad, including 23-year-old Justin.
Pentagon reports state the soldiers died April 29 while conducting a sweep in search of improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs. A vehicle approached the Army unit, and the driver detonated a bomb, according to the Department of Defense. All the soldiers who died were assigned to the Army's 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, based in Baumholder, Germany.
“Let us remember Justin's extended family for the heroes they are,” Damon Schmidt said before reading the names of the other soldiers killed alongside his nephew.
The photos illustrated a lifetime of memories – Justin as a baby being carried by his father, as a young adult playing the drums, smiling with friends and hugging his fiancee, Stephanie Kohler, the German woman he was going to marry May 19. The couple had postponed the wedding when Justin found out that his tour in Iraq had been extended.
Family friend Carol McKinney, mother of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who was one of Justin's best friends, shared happy memories of Justin singing karaoke, and sharing his charm, kindness and sense of humor with his huge circle of friends.
Still, he was willing to give all that up to serve his country, she said.
“He was proud of who he was. He loved his family and friends and believed in the mission he was called to do,” McKinney said.
Justin was born at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, but was a lifelong Manatee County resident.
He attended Daughtrey Elementary before going to Harllee Middle School. He went on to attend Bayshore High School, where he was a member of Junior ROTC during ninth and 10th grades. He later transferred to Manatee High where he graduated in 1998.
Harllee's staff plans to display a plaque at the school honoring Justin. It will be placed beside another memorial plaque, that of Marine Pfc. Christopher Cobb, another Harllee alumnus, who died serving in Iraq on April 6.
Justin was one of the last soldiers killed in April, the deadliest month for the U.S. military in Iraq. In April, 136 American troops were killed in action in Iraq, according to The Associated Press.
The Pentagon reports that since combat began in March 2003 at least 772 U.S. service members have died in Iraq.
Today the Schmidt family should have been preparing to celebrate Justin's birthday. He would have turned 24 on Thursday. Instead they are heading to Arlington National Cemetery where he will be buried Friday.
The Rev. William Hull told mourners to seek comfort in scripture and from each other.
“At a time like this words, fail us,” Hull said. “We cannot in any way adequately reflect Justin's life.”
SCHMIDT, JUSTIN BRYAN
SPC US ARMY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 04/29/2000 – 04/29/2004
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/13/1980
DATE OF DEATH: 04/29/2004
DATE OF INTERMENT: 05/14/2004
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 7981 – Arlington National Cemetery
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard