Jared Schmitz was identified by his father in a St. Louis radio interview as one of the 13 U.S. Marines and service members who died in the attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021. He was remembered as a “true American hero” who had always wanted to serve his country.
Speaking to St. Louis Today radio, Mark Schmitz emotionally paid tribute to his son, who was from the St. Louis, Missouri, area, saying that serving in the Armed Forces was “something he’s always wanted to do, and I’ve never seen a young man train as hard as he did to be the best soldier he can be. That’s a big part of why we are all obviously devastated and sad, but there’s so much anger right now because he wasn’t even given that opportunity to demonstrate all the skills he had… learned while in the Corps, and he took his job very seriously. Someone came along. took the easy way out and ended everything for him and for us. And the others who were killed.”
Read a roundup of tributes and photos of all of the American service members who died here.
Asked by the radio host what message he wanted Americans to remember, Mark Schmitz said: “Be afraid of our leadership or lack thereof. Pray every day for the soldiers who are putting their lives at risk and doing what they love, which is protecting all of us. I think they’re the only ones that we can honestly say have our backs.”
State Rep. Nick Schroer wrote on Facebook, “Today please pray for Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz who paid the ultimate sacrifice yesterday serving our nation. This young marine was from St. Charles County and is a true American hero. Keep his family in your prayers today.
Thank you for your service young man! God Bless you and your family, Marine.”
Heavy reached out to Jared’s father to see if the family wanted to say more, and the father said they would be sending out a release soon.
Here’s what you need to know about Jared Schmitz:
1. Jared Had Only Been in Afghanistan for Two Weeks, Says the Dad, Who Described Jared’s Death as ‘Absolutely Devastating’
Schmitz told St. Louis Today’s Carol Daniels: “Marines came by at 2:30 in the morning to give the horrific news. They are supposed to come back today to follow up on more details, what happens next, details I am assuming, I don’t know a lot but unfortunately our son was one of the 13 casualties yesterday.”
Schmitz said Jared had only been in Afghanistan for two weeks.
“He was stationed in Jordan on his first deployment and then when things got a little hairy over in Afghanistan, he was one of the 6,000 or so troops that was called in.”
The father said that he and his wife were concerned when they found out Jared would be going to Afghanistan. “We knew this was something he trained for and was looking forward to participating in,” he said. “He was not the type that liked to sit around and get his four years in and walk away.”
He added, “He wanted to be in a situation where he actually made a difference in what his role was within the Marine Corps; he was excited to get that opportunity. As his parents, of course we were terrified. I don’t have words for how upset we are and I am sure he is as well, This is just absolutely devastating.”
2. Jared Was ‘One of the Coolest, Unique Individuals I’ve Ever met,’ His Dad Says
Mark Schmitz said that his son graduated from high school in 2019 and as a Marine in October 2020. He was a Lance Corporal.
“He was probably one of the coolest unique individuals I’ve ever met. Very honored, I can call him my son,” the father said, becoming emotional during the radio interview.
“His life meant so much more and so incredibly devastated that I won’t be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming. ”
In a news conference, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said that officials believe the threat to our forces “from ISIS K is very real as we have seen today.”
He said the threat from ISIS “is extremely real. We’ve been talking about this for several days… we believe it is their desire to continue those attacks. We expect those attacks to continue.” T
“Our mission remains. We are still committed to flowing people out…”
If we can find “who is associated with this, we will go after them,” he said.
What happened in the attack?
“We are still investigating the exact circumstances. The attack occurred at a gate. At the gate we have to check people before they get onto the airfield. We have to make sure they aren’t carrying a bomb.” That required physical screening, he said.
That required physical screening, he said.
The report of four deaths initially came from the Wall Street Journal. Then Fox News reported that at least 10 U.S. Marines and service members were among the dead in the attacks believed to be caused by ISIS.
Then, the grim toll raised to 12, confirmed by a U.S. general. Finally, it rose to 13.
3. 12 Other Americans Also Died & 18 Were Wounded
Those lost now number 13.
Most of the other victims have been named so far. They are Navy medic Max Soviak, Marine Rylee McCollum and Marine David Lee Espinoza. Other names released are Humberto Sanchez, Ryan Knauss, Kareem Nikoui, Taylor Hoover, Daegan Page, and Hunter Lopez.
Read a round up of tributes here.
“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of U.S. Marine Rylee McCollum of Bondurant. Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire nation, thank Rylee for his service,” the governor of Wyoming wrote on Facebook.
4. The Americans Who Died Were ‘Heroes Engaged in the Selfless Mission to Save the Lives of Others,’ the President Said
President Biden said in a news conference that the dead service members were “standing guard at the airport…These American service members who gave their lives are… heroes.. engaged in the selfless mission to save the lives of others.”
Biden said, “We will not be deterred by terrorists… we will continue the evacuation.” He said that ISIS-K leadership and facilities will be attacked. More than 100,000 people were “taken to safety in the last 11 days. In the last 12 hours or so, another 7,000 have gotten out,” he said. “These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans who are there…America will not be intimidated.”
He called those who died “part of the bravest, most capable and selfless military on the face of the earth.. the backbone of America, the spine of America, the best the country has to offer. Jill and I, our hearts ache for all those Afghan families who lost loved ones, including small children, in this vicious attack. We’re outraged.”
Biden brought up his deceased son Beau, who served in Iraq, saying, Beau Biden “was diagnosed with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain. We have some sense like many of you do what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. Feeling like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. There’s no way out. My heart aches for you.”
He continued, “We have a continued obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you, the families of those heroes. The obligation is not temporary, it lasts for ever. They were lives given in the service of liberty, in security, in the service of others, in the service of America.”
5. The Deaths Came After US Intelligence Warnings About a Looming Attack
The deaths come the day after the U.S. Embassy warned stranded Americans not to go to the Hamid Karzai International Airport because of threats from ISIS, the Wall Street Journal reported the day before the attacks tore through the city.
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the alert said, according to the Journal.
“Officials have been warning that members of the Afghan branch of the Islamic State extremist group were trying to mount an attack on military personnel or civilians at the airport,” the Journal Reported.