WENTZVILLE, Mo. – A 20-year-old Marine from Missouri was among those killed in the pair of suicide bombings at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was from Wentzville, Missouri and attended Fort Zumwalt South High School where he graduated from in 2019. Schmitz reportedly decided to join the marines around his freshman or sophomore year in high school and began training profusely with other recruits despite not being enlisted yet.
“Jared was one of the most loving people you’re ever going to meet, just an amazing young kid,” a Schmitz family friend told KSDK’s 5 On Your Side. “He was very dedicated to his country and very dedicated to being a Marine.”
President Biden attempted a full withdrawal of U.S. personnel and service members from Afghanistan earlier this month, but it was met with a swift Taliban takeover of the country’s government, media and law enforcement.
Schmitz was one of roughly 5,000 troops deployed to Kabul to assist with evacuation efforts of American citizens and Afghan refugees after the U.S.-backed government was taken over by the terrorist group.
Several Missouri elected officials issued statements paying tribute to Schmitz and the other marines’ ultimate sacrifice and called on President Joe Biden to resolve the situation in Kabul.
“My heart breaks for these fallen heroes, their families, and their fellow service members still fighting for their lives at the airport in Kabul,” Congressman Sam Graves said in a statement. “They’ve shown immense courage and compassion in the face of impossible odds. They never should have been put in this position in the first place. The President must immediately implement a plan to secure the airport and protect the lives of U.S. troops, American citizens, and our allies,”
“I am both heartbroken and incensed by the deaths of our U.S. service members in Afghanistan. Their bravery knows no bounds,” Congresswoman Ann Wagner said in a statement. “Their sacrifices will not be forgotten and we will hold President Biden and his Administration accountable. I continue to pray for their families, all those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks, and for those who are still in Afghanistan,”
“On behalf of all Missourians, we want to honor Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz for his sacrifice and recognize his service to our nation in the defense of freedom,” Gov. Mike Parson tweeted on Friday. “He put his life on the line protecting our service members and allies. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his bravery. Our hearts go out to Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz’s family and friends. And to Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, you will never be forgotten.”
The suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the crowds gathered at Kabul’s airport and killed 13 U.S. Marines and at least 60 Afghans, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. The attacks also wounded dozens of other U.S. troops and Afghan citizens.
“I’d like to offer my profound condolences to the families of our service men and women and Afghan civilians who lost their lives today,” Marine Corps General and head of the U.S. military’s Central Command Frank McKenzie said on Thursday. “We have put more than 5,000 U.S. service members at risk to save as many civilians as we can. It’s a noble mission, and today we have seen first hand how dangerous that mission is.”
The Islamic State terrorist group named ISIS-K, an offshoot of the original ISIS, has taken responsibility for the attack and said one of the suicide bombers targeted “translators and collaborators with the American army.” ISIS-K is hostile towards both the Taliban and the Western ideals of the United States.
Schmitz leaves behind his mother, father and his 9-year-old special needs sister, whom he was especially close with, according to his father.
“She worshipped the ground he walked on,” Schmitz’s father, Mark, said in a statement. “He would meet her at the bus stop every day and walk home. It really made her day.”
The fallen Marine was honored Friday night with a moment of silence at the Fort Zumwalt South football game. There was also a rally on Saturday morning that hosted hundreds of community members lined up on Wentzville Parkway to show support for Schmitz, many holding flags and patriotic signs.
Schmitz’s family traveled to Dover Airforce Base in Delaware this past weekend to claim his remains, Mark Schmitz announced last week. Funeral details have not yet been released.