Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.)

December 29, 2006; Page 1A
Contact: Crystal Wendt


Military verifies Marine's death



The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed that Cpl. Joshua Schmitz, a U.S. Marine who graduated from Loyal High School, was killed in Iraq.


Schmitz, 21, and Lance Cpl. William Koprince Jr., 24, of Lenoir City, Tenn., both of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were killed while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, the department reported.


Schmitz died Tuesday and Koprince died Wednesday.


Schmitz's body was expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday night.


It usually takes seven to 10 days after an incident to return someone killed in Iraq to his hometown, said Marine Capt. Tony Mitchell, a casualty assistance calls officer based in Green Bay who is the liaison with the family and funeral home.


Details about the cause of death were not available Thursday from the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at Camp Lejeune, N.C.


Flags were placed on lightposts Thursday along Main Street in Loyal in honor of Schmitz, said Mayor Randy Anderson, who said the flag at Loyal's City Hall will continue to be flown at half-staff to mark the death of Schmitz and former President Gerald Ford.


The following was written by Schmitz's aunt, Debra May, 53, of Wausau, as a tribute to her nephew.


"On Dec. 25, 2006, as my family was celebrating the most joyous time of the year, singing and hugging each other, my beloved nephew, Joshua Mark Schmitz, was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq.


"As his mother sits holding his picture, telling me that this cannot be true, that any minute he's going to come walking through the door, what can I say? Knowing what a wonderful person he was and knowing how much he was loved makes it so much more difficult to try to ease a mother's pain.


"Josh, we love you and we will miss you dearly.


"Love you forever, Aunt Debbie"


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