Thursday, January 31, 2008

Army 1st Lt. David E. Schultz

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. David E. Schultz, 25, of Blue Island, Ill.

1st Lt. Schultz was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Jan. 31, 2008 of wounds sustained when the Convoy Support Center at Scania, Iraq, was attacked by indirect enemy fire.

The News & Observer -- FORT BRAGG - The 82nd Airborne Division said a North Carolina-based paratrooper died from wounds he sustained during combat in Scania, Iraq, last week.

The division said Saturday that 1st Lt. David Schultz, 25, of Blue Island, Ill., was hit by indirect fire Thursday.

He was a platoon leader assigned to the division's 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

"First Lt. David Schultz was a vital part to this organization," said Lt. Col. Michael Iacobucci, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. "His standards of leadership, resolve, and professionalism were benchmarks by which others measured themselves."

Schultz graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2005 and joined the Army the same year. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne a year later.

"First Lt. Dave Schultz was a soldier's soldier," said Capt. Nathan Paliska, Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, commander. "He did not mind rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty to accomplish the mission, not just for mission's sake, but for the success of the soldiers he led."

Sabrina Schultz clicked off the vacuum cleaner. Someone was pounding at the door of her home in Fort Bragg, N.C.

She peered out the kitchen window and nearly dropped to her knees. Two military officers in Class A uniforms stood outside. She took a moment to collect herself and then opened the door, thinking they might be at the wrong address.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Are you Sabrina Schultz, wife of 1st Lt. David Schultz?" one of them asked.

Without answering, she spun around and went back inside, closing the screen door behind her.

"I didn't want to hear what they had to say," she said Sunday from her home in Fort Bragg. "I thought they made a mistake. I am still in disbelief."

Her husband, a Blue Island native and member of the 82nd Airborne Division, was killed Thursday when enemy mortar struck his office building in Scania, Iraq. He was assigned to the division's 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, First Brigade Combat Team. He was 25 years old.

Schultz graduated from Eisenhower High School and Northern Illinois University.

"He started out as this shy, quiet little boy and blossomed into a wonderful, caring young man," said his mother, Marjorie Schultz, of New Lenox. "He made us so proud. Every time we turned around, he was getting another award."

Schultz was featured in a November 2007 Daily Southtown story for his work collecting school materials and soccer balls for Iraqi children. With the help of his high school Spanish teacher, Michelle Alfano, they delivered several shipments to Iraqi school children.

"Seeing the smiles on Iraqi children's faces when you bring them the school supplies they need is one of the greatest things I have experienced over here," he said in an e-mail at the time.

Schultz left for Iraq last June.

"That was an awful day," said his wife, who grew up in Galena. "I was very pregnant, and it was hot. There were lots of hugs and kisses. Lots of emotion and long embraces."

Baby Logan, now seven months old, was born days later on Father's Day. Schultz had just arrived in Kuwait and spoke to his wife the day after the birth.

"It was wonderful. He was so excited but also heartbroken because he missed it," Sabrina Schultz said.

He met his son for the first time during a two-week leave near Christmas.

"I don't think I had ever seen him smile so big. He was so happy and nervous because he had never taken care of a baby before," she said. "But he had a real knack for it."

Schultz returned to Iraq Jan. 9. While they worried, no one in his immediate family sensed that he experienced danger on a daily basis. He was expected to return home in the fall.

"He always told me there was no reason to worry. The violence level dropped significantly since they had been over there. I was feeling a little more comfortable about where he was," Sabrina Schultz said.

His mother agreed.

"I know he was in harm's way, but he was an executive officer. What are the odds of a missile coming through your office?" she said.

Schultz enjoyed hunting, fishing and country music. He was proud of his home town and Eisenhower High School where he wrestled and played football.

His parents - dad David Schultz is a Blue Island police sergeant - moved to New Lenox a few months ago. The move and wintry weather on Thursday delayed the military's arrival at the Schultz home to deliver the tragic news.

They learned of their son's death after phoning Sabrina to gush about Logan. She sent photos and video showing him crawling for the first time - footage that David Schultz also saw hours before his death.

After several back-and-forth phone calls, they learned the horrible news and spent the rest of the night pacing.

"I want Logan to know his daddy was a hero, that it was very hard for him to be away from him and that he felt so terrible when he missed his birth," Sabrina Schultz said. "We are all so proud of what he did."

Schultz also is survived by a sister, Rebecca, and a brother, Doug. Funeral arrangements are pending at Hickey Memorial Chapel in Blue Island.

"It's the most God-awful feeling in the world for someone to tell you your child is gone and so far from home, and you can't touch him and see him," his mother said. "Did he suffer? Did he feel anything? That's what haunts me."

But they also find comfort knowing he enjoyed his work and was making a difference in Iraq.

"He was an extremely patriotic person and believed in what he was doing. As corny as it sounds, he did give his life for all of us," Marjorie Schultz said. "He is a true hero."

Schultz, who played on Eisenhower's football and baseball teams, distinguished himself by earning a starting job as a defensive lineman his senior year despite being undersized.

"He was the perfect kid to coach, a hard worker, he worked hard all the time," his former coach Greg Walder said.

Walder said that while Schultz's younger brother Doug showed more natural athletic talent, Schultz earned praise for his inexhaustible work ethic.

"Doug was a better athlete, but he didn't have half of Dave's heart. (Dave) was a great kid, teammates loved him," Walder said.

Schultz's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Schultz is survived by his wife, Sabrina, and their son, who live at Fort Bragg; and his parents, David and Marjorie Schultz of Blue Island, Ill.

Army 1st Lt. David E. Schultz was killed in action on 1/31/08.

No comments: