Thursday, October 06, 2011

Marine Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt, 24, of San Antonio

LCpl Schmidt was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Oct. 6, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

Lcpl Schmidt, serving as leader and on point, while patrolling with his plattoon, was killed. Family says he was shot in the head. This incident is under investigation.

Lcpl Schmidt, a Marine sniper, graduated from Alamo Heights High School in 2006 where he played football. He joined the Marines four years ago, after dropping out of college. Deployed to Afghanistan in September. This was his second deployment.

"He loved his buddies in teh Marines and he owuld have done anything for them," mother, Becky Whetstone, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist and former advice columnist for the San Antonio Express-News.

She said her son returned from a previous deployment to Afghanistan disillusioned with the Marine Corps and the war. After a friend lost a leg in combat, Schmidt became furious with his superiors, whom he blamed for needlessly putting Marines in danger.

He also felt the Marines had to operate on the battlefield under too many restrictions that limited their ability to defend themselves, she said.“He didn't believe in war anymore,” she said. “There are people who die for their country who aren’t necessarily believing in the cause. They're doing their job because they committed to doing their job and they are seeing it through.”

On Sept. 11, Schmidt wrote on his Facebook page: “I guess you can use today as a reason for us to be here in Afghanistan. Just know I'm fighting for myself, but most of all for all my friends and family who read this. Everyone, it’s an honor to be your ambassador.”

His mother said he was a special young man who had been looking forward to leaving the Marine Corps and pursuing a career as a history professor or in politics.
"At first, he had a passion for the military. But over time, he decided he didn't like it, and didn't like the policies of the war. He had never been interested in politics before, but that changed in Afghanistan."

Schmidt's father is Dr. David Schmidt, the team physician for the San Antonio Spurs and Alamo Heights football team doctor.

Lcpl Schmidt's death was announced during one of the high school's recent football games.

"I had to be here. This is my family, you know, all the coaches, and I've been here, he's been here his whole life," replied Dr. Schmidt.

Lcpl Schmidt returned to his Alma Mater last year to say hello during a football game. "He got a standing ovation and it was one of those great things in life that you get to do," Rick Shaw, football game announcer for past 12 years, said.

"To lose him is tragic for his service to our country, it's something that these young men do and God bless him for doing it," said Shaw.

"My son's in a good place right now," added Dr. Schmidt. "We did everything together, we fished together we hunted together we came to football games together," said Schmidt.

"He loved life and he lived life big," added his father. "I cant think of a greater honor than giving your life for your community."

Lcpl Schmidt's awards and decorations include:

Purple Heart
Bronze Star (2)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Valor
Combat Action Ribbon
Sea Service Deployment
Afghan Campaign Ribbon (2)
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
National Defensive Service Medal
NATO medal- ISAF Afghanistan

Lcpl Schmidt was laid to rest on October 14 at Fort Sam National Cemetery.

Lcpl Schmidt is survived by his parents, Dr. Becky Whetstone and Dr. David Schmidt; sister, Casey; and girlfriend, Taylor.

Marine Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt was killed on 10/06/11.

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