Thousands honor fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz

Thousands of people lined Interstate 70 in suburban St. Louis Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, for a procession taking Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz's remains to a funeral home in St. Charles, Missouri. Schmitz died in the suicide bombing last month in Afghanistan.(AP Photo by Jim Salter)

Thousands of people lined Interstate 70 in suburban St. Louis Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, for a procession taking Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz’s remains to a funeral home in St. Charles, Missouri. Schmitz died in the suicide bombing last month in Afghanistan. (AP Photo by Jim Salter)

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UPDATED 7:28 AM PT – Friday, September 10, 2021

A Missouri community has continued to honor local hero Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, one of the 13 U.S. service members killed during a suicide bombing in Kabul. The Marine’s remains arrived at the St. Louis Lambert Airport in Wentzville on Wednesday.

A procession on Interstate 70 soon followed, stretching along a 12-mile route escorting Schmitz to a local funeral home. Thousands gathered to pay their respects, standing on sidewalks, freeways and overpasses along the route as they watched a brigade of police motorcycles, patriot guard riders and first responders follow the Marine.

“If we can bring a little bit of comfort to the family by being here, then it makes it all worth while,” said Gerry Keedy, a procession attendee.

The 20-year-old graduated from high school in just 2019. His father said Schmitz was always there for anybody who needed help and trained for the military before he was even a recruit.

“The way he grew up and how he tried to take care of everybody all the way through and then when this happened, I could just see him out there like that’s his rush to do what he was doing, giving up his water and his food to people that were hot and hungry. You know, that’s the kind of thing he would do and I guarantee you right now, if he was here he’d do it again,” said Schmitz’ father, Mark.

Several people in the Wentzville community have taken steps to ensure the hometown hero is always remembered. The mayor also said he plans on presenting a proclamation to declare a day in January as “Jared Schmitz day.”

“This is a special one for me, you know, he’s a local hero and because of him thousands of lives were saved,” said Mayor Nick Guccione. “I mean, he risked his life and gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

A total of 11 Marines, one Sailor and a Soldier were among those killed in Afghanistan after the attack at the Kabul airport. A private funeral service is set to be held for Schmitz where he will later be laid to rest at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

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