Fallen Missouri Marine, family honored during Veterans Day ceremony


ST. CHARLES, MO. — Two months after a Missouri Marine was killed in Afghanistan, dozens attended a Veterans Day ceremony honoring him and his family.

Gov. Mike Parson, Sen. Roy Blunt, and many other state lawmakers and local leaders were near Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz’s hometown in St. Charles County. The 20-year-old and the other 12 service members were killed by a suicide bomber back in August in the final hours of the U.S. leaving the Kabul Airport.

“We’re reminded of the tremendous sacrifice our service members make when 13 of our servicemen and women laid down their lives in the name of freedom, including our own Lace Corporal Jared Schmitz,” Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, said Thursday.

It was a day of thanks and remembrance to veterans and their families. For more than 50 years, the Veterans Day Ceremony in St. Charles has honored those who served.

“Today is made more of a special day because it happened so close to home in St. Louis when Corporal Schmitz came back,” Parson said. “And for his family to be here today, his mom and dad to be here, you just feel like you want to do so much to honor those young men and women who give everything for our freedom.”

Hundreds gathered last month, lining the highway and interstate as Schmitz was brought back home and taken to his final resting place at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

“All gave some, unfortunately, some gave all,” St. Charles County Councilman Mike Elam said. “We have a family that has been through that and we want to honor them today.”

Schmitz’s mom and dad were recognized during the ceremony for their son’s service.

“I would like to say it’s getting easier, but that would be a lie,” Mark Schmitz said. “There’s a hole we cannot fill. We’re going to do what we can to help turn this tragedy into something positive.”

Parson, a veteran himself, was the keynote speaker for the event.

“We could never do enough to honor your son but I tell you, every day we are going to remember what he did and I promise you that in this state,” Parson said.

The St. Charles Veterans Commission honored the Schmitz family with a wooden flag and a picture.

“There could be no more honor than giving your life while protecting fellow soldiers and the citizens that were around them,” George Newell said. “Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz signed up in the Marines to serve his country and to become a warrior. He served bravely and gave his life doing it.”

Schmitz’s dad thanked the entire St. Louis area, state, and nation for the support the family has received in the past two months.

“Without all your support, I don’t think we would be standing as tall as we are today,” Schmitt said holding back tears. “It has meant everything.”

During his speech, Blunt mentioned his disapproval of President Biden pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

“The price that has to be paid is a tremendous price for those who pay it and those that love them, we are grateful for that,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) said.

The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.

“I would say we need to do it more than once a year,” Parson said. “I think there are times we all have a chance to meet veterans somewhere to say thanks again.”

Parson said there are more than 400,000 veterans who live in Missouri.

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