ST. LOUIS – Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, will be laid to rest Thursday. Supporters are hoping to top last week’s huge turnout when Schmitz’s body came home. Thousands of flags are now being given away for Thursday’s procession to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
They are free for the taking just inside the front door of John Beal Roofing on Prichard Farm Road in Maryland Heights.
Peggy Voss of Washington, Missouri, grabbed a couple. She was so moved by last week’s news coverage of the turnout along Interstate 70 as Schmitz’s body was escorted from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Baue Funeral Home in St. Charles.
“I have a lot of family that has served, some that have made the supreme sacrifice,” Voss said. “I had an uncle in Vietnam. I believe. I believe in the freedom that’s been fought for and the sacrifices that have been made. I don’t want them to be in vain.”
Schmitz was one of 13 U.S. troops killed in the suicide bombing at the Kabul, Afghanistan, airport Aug. 26, giving their lives during the evacuation of fellow Americans and Afghan allies. The 2019 Ft. Zumwalt South graduate was just shy of his 21st birthday.
“It’s as selfless as it gets,” said Karl Lund, a friend of Schmitz’s father, Mark. “There was gunfire. They were running toward it. That’s when the bomb went off. That’s the very definition of ‘hero’.”
Lund arranged the flag giveaway. Two thousand were donated by Ralph Morse, an Air Force veteran who volunteers with the USO, Lund said.
Sugarfire Barbecue in Schmitz’s hometown of Wentzville is also giving them away.
“Mark’s (Schmitz) first comment to me was, ‘I want to make sure my son gets the sendoff that he deserves…(Mark) was in tears in the whole procession. He will be Thursday as well. He has no idea what’s coming.”
“Through all the different groups and organizations I’m a part of, I think there’s several hundred or a thousand people that are going to be participating,” said Shari Deranja, who picked up 20 flags at John Beal Roofing, Tuesday.
“A lot of companies are letting their employees off early, taking extended lunch breaks, or closing down completely for the whole day,” Lund said.
“I don’t there’s anything more important on Thursday, Deranja said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol will shut down the procession route: eastbound on I-70 from St. Charles to Southbound I-270 to eastbound I-255 to Telegraph Road into the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The procession is expected to begin between 12:30 and 1:00 Thursday afternoon.