MUSA QAL’EH DISTRICT CENTER, Helmand province, Afghanistan -- Marines and sailors with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, attended a memorial service Oct. 13 to honor Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt, 24, of San Antonio.
Schmidt, a scout sniper with Headquarters and Service Company, 2/4, died while conducting combat operations Oct. 6. Several of those closest to Schmidt offered kind words about their fallen brother, including those who served with him in the Scout Sniper Platoon.
“I believe there are several ways to honor a man like Benjamin,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jairo A. Fredonis, the Scout Sniper Platoon commander. “One way is to simply remember him and tell his story, show people how he lived, how he cared and loved, speak of his dedication and his commitment, inform those who didn’t know him that he existed, … explain that Benjamin was a great man and how unfortunate it is that they never had a chance to meet him.”
Fredonis read to the crowd a deeply personal letter he wrote to Schmidt’s parents, explaining the positive impact Schmidt had on everyone he encountered, including himself.
“He was such an incredible young man; he was funny, he was smart, witty, courageous, committed, honorable and an exceptional warrior,” said Fredonis. “He was a titan when it came to our craft – Marine scout sniper. You raised an amazing young man, and I will tell his story for the rest of my life.”
The battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. William H. Vivian, also spoke highly of Schmidt. Vivian talked about how Schmidt stood out among the battalion’s exceptional scout snipers.
“He always showed a real passion for his work and a sincere generosity to his brothers,” said Vivian. “He set an example that lifted others around him to reach a little higher.”
A final roll call was performed by Sgt. Maj. Donald K. Williams, the battalion sergeant major, as the ceremony neared its end – no response came when Schmidt’s name was called. Williams ordered the Marines to honor the dead; they promptly complied, rendering salutes for their fallen brother as “Taps” played softly. Then every Marine in attendance approached Schmidt’s memorial display, individually paying their final respects to a hero who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“The world is a lesser place without him,” said Fredonis. “I will forever miss him; I’m so very sorry that he’s gone.”
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.