ST. LOUIS – Friday marks one year since Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, a U.S. Marine with Wentzville roots, and 12 other U.S. troops were killed in a deadly bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
On Aug. 26, 2021, an attack outside of the Kabul airport killed at least 169 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. troops. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds flocking to Kabul’s airport.
The attack happened near a canal where U.S. forces checked documentation before allowing evacuees inside the airport. It led to hundreds of injuries and the largest single loss of life of US military personnel since 2011.
Schmitz was deployed to Afghanistan from Jordan nearly two weeks prior to the attack. It was his first deployment. Schmitz, who graduated from Fort Zumwalt South High School in 2019, was 20.
“I was completely stone-faced, it was a shock,” Mark Schmitz, Jared’s father, told FOX 2 last year. “They had to tell me 10 times before it sunk in. It’s the worst feeling in the world that you could ever imagine. As as soon as [the U.S. Marine Corps] left, I collapsed and started crying.”
The attack came amid a large-scale evacuation that began on Aug. 15, 2021, after the Taliban took control in Afghanistan, marking the end of a decades-long war. More than 120,000 people, including U.S. military forces, evacuated by the end of August.
Last September, Schmitz and other U.S. service members who died in the attack were posthumously awarded Purple Hearts. One year after the Gold Star father’s tragic loss, he is proud of his son for making the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
”One thing you can take away from Jared’s life. He would have done anything for you and given you anything. That’s why he joined the Corps, that’s what they stand for,” Mark said.
Schmitz’s ex-girlfriend, Lexie Correa, who went to school with him, told FOX 2 how Jared loved his Marine brothers and had an infectious laugh.
“You could be having the worst day ever and just a phone call from him would make your day so much better,” she said.
Fort Zumwalt South High School held a moment of silence for the fallen Marine before the first home varsity football game last year and later raised $32,000 for a memorial fund to help Schmitz’s family. The St. Louis Blues also honored Schmitz, a longtime fan, by donating a custom-made jersey to his family and wearing a theme jersey in pregame warmups for a military appreciation game last season.
Earlier this year, Schmitz’s family revealed a veteran retreat to honor Schmitz’s legacy. Many local events and fundraisers around St. Louis County and St. Charles County have also paid tribute to Schmitz over the past year. Chariots of Fire Customs LLC, based in Troy, Missouri, is also planning a motorcycle ride in Schmitz’s memory this weekend.
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