ST. LOUIS – Thousands of people are expected to line I-70 and overpasses Wednesday afternoon to honor the life of fallen Marine, Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz.
Schmitz’ remains will land at St. Louis Lambert International Airport around 12:35 Wednesday afternoon and will be escorted on westbound I-70 from the airport to Baue Funeral Home, off the Cave Springs exit.
Missouri State Highway Patrol will close westbound I-70 for about 12 miles as the processional takes place.
“We owe him a debt we could never repay,” St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer said.
Local leaders and organizations have been preparing for the remains of Schmitz to come home.
“What the fire service has got in place, is we have large American flags with ladder tracks on every overpass from lambert to Baue at Cave Springs, St. Charles Deputy Fire Chief Steve Brown said.
“It’s really kind of a blessing to be able to do this for the family, we just want to make sure that Jared is honored and the family knows how much we care.”
The St. Louis Patriot Guard is riding in the processional Wednesday, with the family’s blessing. Behind the Senior Ride Captain Jeff Hirsch, he is expecting close to 1,000 motorcycles alone.
“Please come out and wave your Flags Over the overpasses or alongside the road somewhere,” Hirsch said.
“It’s very difficult, we have a saying in the Patriot Guard, we wear dark glasses for a reason and that’s not always because of the sun, it’s still very difficult for us to.”
Hirsch said they ride in multiple missions per week, but this one for Schmitz will be difficult for many of them because he was so young.
“There’s some pride, there’s a sense of honors sense of sadness,” Hirsch said.
“Some of the families have extreme difficulty, we feel that as well. We try to keep a stiff upper lip, but at times it gets very trying and I guess it just kind of shows we have our heart in what we do.”
Hirsch said if people would like to watch the processional and welcome home the hometown hero, he suggests doing so from an overpass.