ST. PETERS, Mo. – Fort Zumwalt South High School honored the life of 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz before Friday night’s football game with a moment of silence and holding a Marine Corps flag during the national anthem.
Schmitz graduated from Fort Zumwalt South High School in 2019. He was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in an attack at the airport in Kabul from ISIS-K.
Schmitz was supposed to turn 21 in February, he was just seven months old when 9/11 happened and the war he fought in, started.
Afghanistan veteran James Wright said he served in the same unit as Schmitz, but 10 years prior.
“I didn’t know who he was, but what I do know is that he’s a brother of mine, it hits close to home,” he said through his tears.
“It’s just gut-wrenching to know that even though we don’t know each other now, one way or another the things that we do and the way that we carry ourselves through the Marine Corps, it passes down to the next generation.”
But Wright said that is not the only connection. Wright has been helping his interpreter from his 2010-2011 deployment in Afghanistan get his Special Immigrant VISA and get out of Afghanistan and become a US citizen.
Wright said his interpreter, his wife, and three daughters were able to get safely to the airport in Kabul all because of the Marines in a specific unit, which happened to be the one Schmitz served in.
Wright said the gate that was attacked at the airport, was the same gate his interpreter and family went through just five days before, because of the help of Schmitz and fellow Marines.
“His actions actually benefitted a family coming to America, where their lives and this family lives and this history for years to come is because of the selfless act and the job that he did over there,” he said.
The interpreter and family landed in America Thursday, the same day Schmitz was killed.
“This is an opportunity to show a family that his loss, did have an outcome that was beneficial for him being there,” he said. “I know that my linguist is very grateful for him.”
Wright said he wants Schmitz family to know he is there for them. “I want to thank them for raising a fine young man,” he said. “I want to let them know that they aren’t forgotten, we do care and we know what they are going through and know that his death was not in vain.”
Wright lives about an hour and a half south of Wentzville, where Schmitz is from and said he believes he is the closest Marine to the family that served in the same unit as Schmitz.
“If they have any questions, just from experience and being over there, I would be more than happy to go to them and sit down and talk to them if that’s what they wish.”
“They might not feel it, but like I said before, our community is very small and we’re all feeling it. They have a support group behind them in the thousands, and I don’t know a single person that wouldn’t drop everything and be at their beck and call. If they need me, I’m there.”