Jared Schmitz: Hometown Hero

Observing the fallen Marine’s life and how the people of St. Charles County have paid their respects


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Thousands of people have memorialized Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz following his death in Kabul.

Gavin Block, Reporter

Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, of Wentzville was among the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 26. At least 170 Afghan civilians were also killed in the attack. Schmitz was just 20 years old.

The attack came 11 days after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, while many Afghans were trying to flee via the airport. Schmitz, along with the other service members, was sent there to assist in the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies. 

Schmitz was a 2019 graduate of Fort Zumwalt South, where he was occasionally known as “Jay” to his classmates.

He was only 6 months old when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred and the War in Afghanistan began. He signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 17 and was initially stationed in Jordan. Schmitz was deployed to Afghanistan from Jordan around two weeks before he died.

It was very special to me to be at the procession because Jared and his family are parishioners of my church. The atmosphere was so amazing, everyone was all gathered together to honor an amazing person.”

— Cami Grimes (12)

He and the 12 other service members were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Schmitz’s father, Mark Schmitz, told reporters at the O’Fallon Veterans Memorial that his son was always willing to help people, and that his sacrifice in Afghanistan was the most exemplary form of that willingness. Schmitz stated that Jared wanted to become a Marine since his sophomore year of high school.

“[Jared’s] been my strength; he’s been my light,” he said. “He’s the reason I’m doing everything right now . . . I feel I owe it to him to be out here talking to as many people as possible, spreading the word about who he was; he would have [risked his life] again.” 

Mark Schmitz additionally shared a poignant Ronald Reagan quote to summarize the sacrifice of the 13 service members: “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in this world. The Marines don’t have that problem.”

Lexie Correa, Jared Schmitz’s former high school girlfriend, said that he had an infectious laugh.

She recalled, “You could be having the worst day ever and just a phone call from him would make your day so much better.” She also noted that he was an avid fan of the St. Louis Blues, and that he was very excited when they won the 2019 Stanley Cup.

On Aug. 27, just a day after the news of his death broke, hundreds of people gathered along Wentzville Parkway to show support for Lance Cpl. Schmitz and his family. This was just one of the many tributes shortly after his death in the St. Louis area. Civilians and local organizations have also donated substantial amounts of money to the Schmitz family.

“This isn’t an effort that’s going to die out in the next couple of days here until Jared comes home. We will be rallying behind him,” Missouri State Representative Nick Schroer told Fox 2 News. “The silver lining in this is he has brought more people back together than any politician or entity ever could, he’s bringing people back together and showing people what the American spirit truly is.”

Fort Zumwalt South also had a pregame ceremony and moment of silence for Schmitz at their football game versus Troy Buchanan.

The U.S. flag outside Liberty High School flying at half-staff on Wednesday, Sept. 8. (Gavin Block)

On Wednesday, Sep. 8, Lance Cpl. Schmitz’s body was escorted in a procession from Lambert Airport to Baue Funeral Home in St. Charles. Thousands congregated along Interstate 70 to honor Schmitz and the other service members killed. Drivers on I-70 halted in both directions to show respect as the motorcade passed. There were countless American and Marine Corps flags put up as well as signs that read “Our Hometown Hero” and “Semper Fi, L/CPL Schmitz, Rest In Peace.”

Meanwhile, students and staff here at Liberty, along with other schools in the area, said the Pledge of Allegiance and participated in a moment of silence to show gratitude to the 13 soldiers killed. The 400 hallway teachers also honored the fallen by setting up 13 chairs with the name and photo of each soldier.

Senior Cami Grimes was at Wednesday’s procession in St. Charles. 

“It was very special to me to be at the procession because Jared and his family are parishioners of my church,” she said. “The atmosphere was so amazing, everyone was all gathered together to honor an amazing person.” Grimes mentioned that as a message to the Schmitz family, she would like to tell them that they are not alone and the entire country is here to support them.

There are already numerous efforts proposed by the Wentzville community to ensure that Lance Cpl. Schmitz’s name will never be forgotten.

A memorial to honor 9/11 victims was already in the making, but with the death of Schmitz, the monument is going to expand. There were also ideas for a Jared Schmitz Day (preferably in January since that was the month he was sworn into the Marines), a bridge, scholarship fund, and/or a new overpass in Wentzville to all be in his name.

A public visitation was held on Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It took place at Baue Funeral Home near I-70 and Cave Springs from 3 to 10 p.m.

Schmitz will be laid to rest in a private burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on Thursday, Sept. 16.

A genuinely considerate, supportive person. A brave young man that served his nation. One that made the ultimate sacrifice. This is what Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz of Wentzville will always be remembered as; a true American hero.

If you want to donate to the LCPL Jared Schmitz Memorial Fund, you are able to do it online or by sending a check in the mail to the LCPL Jared Schmitz Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 396.