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Marine Lance Cpl. John T. Schmidt III

Died May 11, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Brookfield, Conn.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; attached to 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force; died May 11 of wounds sustained in an explosion on Jan. 30 while he was conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, Iraq.

Lejeune Marine wounded in Iraq dies

Associated Press

BUNNELL, Fla. — A Marine from Camp Lejeune, N.C., has died nearly four months after suffering severe injuries during combat in Iraq.

Lance Cpl. John T. Schmidt III, 21, who lived with his mother and stepfather in Brookfield, Conn., was injured Jan. 30 in an explosion during combat in Iraq’s Anbar province. He died Wednesday at an Army hospital in San Antonio, Texas, according to his Florida relatives.

His father, John Schmidt Jr., 45, of Bunnell, said his son had been on a ventilator for three months because of pneumonia. Schmidt said he visited his son days before he died, and was prepared for the worst.

“They told us he had a 25 percent chance of getting through it,” he said. “So we had a good idea he wasn’t going to survive but a few days or a week.”

Schmidt was with fellow platoon members in an agricultural building near Fallujah when they came under attack, family members said at the time of his injuries. He suffered severe burns to his face and lungs when a mortar shell ruptured a tank of ammonia.

“Johnny inhaled the ammonia and it burned his lungs,” said Richard Backlund, the Marine’s grandfather, who’s lived in St. Augustine Beach for 15 years. “His lungs would not come back. He couldn’t breathe.”

Schmidt was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Schmidt’s unit was attached to 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Judith Heise, a Brookfield selectman, said town officials and others tried to honor Schmidt when they learned he was injured in January. A sign over a railroad bridge quoted the Marines’ motto, Semper Fi, and a photo of the bridge was posted in town hall and signed by municipal employees.

“We have all followed his progress,” Heise said. “I’m extremely sorry.”

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who also lives in Brookfield, said in a statement that “brave men and women from our state continue to make sacrifices for our nation in the cause of freedom.”

Rell asked Connecticut residents to pray for the family.

“We share their grief,” Rell said.

Relatives said Schmidt will be buried May 25 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

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