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Friday, February 22, 2008

Sunday's NIU Memorial to be Simulcast at Iraq's Camp Victory; Remembering Another Lost Huskie

On January 31, 2008, indirect fire ended the life of 1st Lt. David Schultz serving in Iraq with the 82nd Airbone Division.

Two short weeks later, on February 14, the 2005 NIU alum was joined by five other Huskies -- one of them a 12-year Army veteran herself -- after the senseless events that unfolded in Cole Hall that day.

This coming Sunday, NIU and its supporters will draw together throughout the community, throughout the state, throughout the country -- their embrace even extending as far as the sands of Iraq -- to honor those lost.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

NIU Student Memorial Service - "Forward, Together Forward"
The university is planning a memorial service to be held at the Convocation Center in DeKalb on Sunday, February 24, 2008. The service will begin at 7 p.m. - Doors open at 5 p.m. The service will be broadcast live and available in real time from the NIU Home Page. In an effort to bring Huskies from across the country together, we've arranged group viewings in several locations...

[snip listing of all locations]

Baghdad, Iraq: Camp Victory
Our alumni and friends serving our country on the front lines are gathering at Camp Victory to watch the service and show their support for NIU.

I'll be in attendance at Sunday's memorial service.

While I'll be remembering those lost on February 14, I'll also be paying special tribute to another of our own: this one a Bronze Star, Purple Heart Huskie lost so far away from home only two weeks earlier. Enormous losses, every one.

From AP:

The 82nd Airborne Division said a North Carolina-based paratrooper died from wounds he sustained during combat in Scania, Iraq, last week. The division said Saturday that 1st Lt. David Schultz, 25, of Blue Island, Ill., was hit by indirect fire Thursday. He was a platoon leader assigned to the division's 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

"First Lt. David Schultz was a vital part to this organization," said Lt. Col. Michael Iacobucci, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. "His standards of leadership, resolve, and professionalism were benchmarks by which others measured themselves."

Schultz graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2005 and joined the Army the same year. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne a year later.

"First Lt. Dave Schultz was a soldier's soldier," said Capt. Nathan Paliska, Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, commander. "He did not mind rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty to accomplish the mission, not just for mission's sake, but for the success of the soldiers he led."

Schultz's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Schultz is survived by his wife, Sabrina, and their son, who live at Fort Bragg; and his parents, David and Marjorie Schultz of Blue Island, Ill.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Sabrina Schultz clicked off the vacuum cleaner. Someone was pounding at the door of her home in Fort Bragg, N.C.

She peered out the kitchen window and nearly dropped to her knees. Two military officers in Class A uniforms stood outside. She took a moment to collect herself and then opened the door, thinking they might be at the wrong address.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Are you Sabrina Schultz, wife of 1st Lt. David Schultz?" one of them asked. Without answering, she spun around and went back inside, closing the screen door behind her. "I didn't want to hear what they had to say," she said Sunday from her home in Fort Bragg. "I thought they made a mistake. I am still in disbelief." ...

Schultz graduated from Eisenhower High School and Northern Illinois University. "He started out as this shy, quiet little boy and blossomed into a wonderful, caring young man," said his mother, Marjorie Schultz, of New Lenox. "He made us so proud. Every time we turned around, he was getting another award."

Schultz was featured in a November 2007 Daily Southtown story for his work collecting school materials and soccer balls for Iraqi children. With the help of his high school Spanish teacher, Michelle Alfano, they delivered several shipments to Iraqi school children.

"Seeing the smiles on Iraqi children's faces when you bring them the school supplies they need is one of the greatest things I have experienced over here," he said in an e-mail at the time.

Schultz left for Iraq last June.

"That was an awful day," said his wife, who grew up in Galena. "I was very pregnant, and it was hot. There were lots of hugs and kisses. Lots of emotion and long embraces."

Baby Logan, now seven months old, was born days later on Father's Day. Schultz had just arrived in Kuwait and spoke to his wife the day after the birth.

"It was wonderful. He was so excited but also heartbroken because he missed it," Sabrina Schultz said. He met his son for the first time during a two-week leave near Christmas. "I don't think I had ever seen him smile so big. He was so happy and nervous because he had never taken care of a baby before," she said. "But he had a real knack for it."

Schultz returned to Iraq Jan. 9. While they worried, no one in his immediate family sensed that he experienced danger on a daily basis. He was expected to return home in the fall. "He always told me there was no reason to worry. The violence level dropped significantly since they had been over there. I was feeling a little more comfortable about where he was," Sabrina Schultz said.

His mother agreed.

"I know he was in harm's way, but he was an executive officer. What are the odds of a missile coming through your office?" she said.

Schultz enjoyed hunting, fishing and country music. He was proud of his home town and Eisenhower High School where he wrestled and played football. His parents - dad David Schultz is a Blue Island police sergeant - moved to New Lenox a few months ago. The move and wintry weather on Thursday delayed the military's arrival at the Schultz home to deliver the tragic news.

They learned of their son's death after phoning Sabrina to gush about Logan. She sent photos and video showing him crawling for the first time - footage that David Schultz also saw hours before his death. After several back-and-forth phone calls, they learned the horrible news and spent the rest of the night pacing.

"I want Logan to know his daddy was a hero, that it was very hard for him to be away from him and that he felt so terrible when he missed his birth," Sabrina Schultz said. "We are all so proud of what he did." Schultz also is survived by a sister, Rebecca, and a brother, Doug. Funeral arrangements are pending at Hickey Memorial Chapel in Blue Island.

"It's the most God-awful feeling in the world for someone to tell you your child is gone and so far from home, and you can't touch him and see him," his mother said. "Did he suffer? Did he feel anything? That's what haunts me."

But they also find comfort knowing he enjoyed his work and was making a difference in Iraq. "He was an extremely patriotic person and believed in what he was doing. As corny as it sounds, he did give his life for all of us," Marjorie Schultz said. "He is a true hero."

From the Chicago Tribune:

Blue Island was a town in mourning Monday.

Hundreds of residents turned out to honor one of their own, Army Capt. David Schultz, who was killed in Iraq last month. They packed the pews at First Evangelical Lutheran Church. They stood outside in the freezing cold, many with signs and flags in their hands, to watch the procession.

Marine Corps Junior ROTC cadets from Eisenhower High School stood in formation as the procession passed, and the band played the U.S. Army Anthem. Some of the students who came outside to watch wept.

Schultz, who graduated from Eisenhower in 2001, was remembered by friends and family for his goofy sense of humor, ever-present smile and huge heart. "The one thing with David is, he's so much a part of all of us, part of the whole family," said uncle Ron Schultz. "It's hard to contemplate the loss."

Schultz, 25, was killed Jan. 31 in Scania, Iraq, when he was hit by indirect fire. He was a platoon leader assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. During the funeral, Army Maj. Todd Platner promoted Schultz to the rank of captain.

Schultz graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2005. The same year, he married his college sweetheart, Sabrina. The two met while working in student government. Last June, the couple had a son, Logan.

"I don't want to accept the reality that my husband is gone," Sabrina Schultz said during her eulogy, as many in the crowd dabbed their eyes. She said she couldn't believe she wouldn't be spending the next 50 years with her husband or having the dozen children they had planned. "In the next few months, the reality of this will hit me. ... I do find comfort knowing where he is."

She added that she believed her husband was still caring for her and their son. "Just a few days after Dave died, Logan said, 'Dada,' for the first time," she said. The loss was especially hard, friends and family said, because of his potential.

Last year from Iraq, he orchestrated a local donation drive for soccer balls and school supplies. He enlisted the help of his high school Spanish teacher, Michelle Alfano, and together they organized a fundraiser that resulted in at least 35 boxes being shipped to Iraq for schoolchildren.

During the service, Alfano said that when Logan asks about his dad someday, his family will have an answer. "David Schultz is a testament to how one person can change the world," Alfano said. "And he did."

He was also known for cracking jokes and having an upbeat attitude. He loved snakes, telling a teacher at Eisenhower that he wanted to bring his pet snake to class because "history is my snake's favorite subject."

His classmates remembered his smile. "He was very friendly and would help anybody out," said Brittany Sidler, 23. "He was always funny."

His former high school teammates and fellow soldiers spoke of Schultz's tenacity and determination. He was considered a hard worker on the football field and wrestling mat in high school, a quality he apparently took with him to Iraq. In his eulogy, Capt. John Luckie said Schultz possessed a "ferocity in which he approached life."

Schultz's father, David, is a sergeant at the Blue Island Police Department. Officers from the department, as well as neighboring police agencies, were on hand to guide the funeral procession, which led mourners past Schultz's old house and high school. Signs and flags dotted the route. Onlookers peered through windows. Several marquees in town said "Rest in Peace."

Schultz is also survived by his mother, Marjorie; a sister, Rebecca; and a brother, Doug. A benefit account has been set up to benefit Logan Schultz. Contributions can be made in the name of "Friends of 1st Lt. David E. Schultz" at any Interstate Bank.

Unbearable loss. My heart goes out to the entire Schultz family. Offer your condolences by signing David's guestbook.

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