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

Thursday, January 4, 2007
Contact: Crystal Wendt

Loyal says goodbye

Mayor: Marine served country, community as a role model, man of action

By Adam Rodewald

LOYAL -- Two women stepped up to the coffin of Cpl. Joshua Schmitz. They peered inside and made the sign of the cross against their hearts.

Behind them, a father came forward with his three daughters. He pulled them close for a hug as the piano player took a seat to their left. She played "How Great Thou Art" softly.

Soon, the line of friends and family diminished and Marines marched forward, one-by-one offering a slow salute. Schmitz, 21, of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed Dec. 26, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Iraq's Al Anbar province.

"Please know that your loss is felt by our entire community," Loyal Mayor Randy Anderson said.

"Just as Josh was serving our country, he was also serving as a role model to the community," he said. "Josh proved he was a man of action, that he wanted to bring peace to the lives of others."

And his sacrifice earned him a Purple Heart.

U.S. Marine Capt. Tony Mitchell carried the medal to Schmitz's mother, Kelly, knelt on one knee and then rose to salute her.

"Just like we try to surround ourselves by good people and friends, so does God. On December 26, 2006, God called another good person," Mitchell said.

Friends said Schmitz was the one person others couldn't be mad at, just because of his smile. He was a leader. He let his Christian faith shine through action, and he truly cared for others.

"We all know what a wonderful son he was, a wonderful brother and a great friend," said Loyal High School football coach Chris Lindner.

There was a pause in the ceremony as a 21-gun salute sounded from outside. Military men and women rose throughout the room and put on their hats for the performance of taps.

The Rev. Woodrow Pace of Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Neillsville said, "He is a sign for us as to what it means to give yourself for a higher means, higher than even life itself."

When everyone had gone and the only sound left in the building was the hum of fluorescent lights, a small group of Marines rolled Schmitz's coffin outside. They draped an American flag over him and left in silence.

There will be a private funeral today for the fallen Marine's family and friends, followed by burial with full military honors.

Adam Rodewald can be reached at 384-3131 ext. 328 or at

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