Military Hero John Schmidt
by Kevin Caruso
Military hero John Schmidt, 21, of Brookfild, Florida, was an outstanding Marine.
John was very patriotic and wanted to fight for his country.
He loved the Marine Corps, and was extremely proud to serve as a Marine.
But John was only in Iraq for two weeks when tragedy struck.
John and members of his platoon from I Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, took shelter at an old ice-making facility near Fallujah on January 30, 2005.
The platoon was using the building as an observation post when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the structure and ignited an ammonia tank inside.
John suffered extensive burns to his skin, esophagus and lungs.
The damage to his lungs was quite severe.
"Johnny inhaled the ammonia and it burned his lungs," said Richard Backlund, Johnís grandfather. "His lungs would not come back. He couldnít breathe."
He was eventually transported to an Army hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and placed on a ventilator.
John hung on courageously for as long as he could, but the injuries proved to be too much, and he passed away with his mother by his side on May 11, 2005.
"We are extremely proud of John and his dedication and service to the Marine Corps," said John's mother, Barbara Jimenez. "Words cannot express our sorrow. We witnessed firsthand his strength, courage and bravery. He was our Johnny."
Barbara said that she received many cards from the residents of Brookfield when John was in the hospital, including from people she and her family didn't know.
And a "Get Well" sign with the words "Semper Fi" was draped on a bridge in town. A picture was taken of the sign and al of the Marines in town signed it.
"John got to see the picture," Barbara said. "We were glad he got a chance to see it."
"I am comforted in knowing people remained supportive while Johnny fought for his country and later for his life," she added.
John was a very speicial person and he endured an unbelievable amount of pain near the end of his life.
He was awarded the Purple Heart on March 30, several weeks before he died. And if there ever
was a military hero who deserved the Purple Heart, it was John -- he deserved 100 of them.
John was a handsome, caring, intelligent, compassionate, and dedicated Marine.
God bless you John.
Thank you for your service.
Thank you for your sacrifice.
America is proud of you.
You are a true military hero.
We miss you.
We love you.
You are an angel.