Monday, July 23, 2007

Jacob S. Schmuecker dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'

Jacob Schmuecker and his brother decided as children that they'd join the military.

There wasn't much discussion — it was just something that they needed to do, said Chris Shepperd, one of Schmuecker's four brothers.

"Both of us knew that we were going to join," said Shepperd, 23, who served a tour in Iraq that ended about two years ago. "He joined first, and I guess I was kind of following my brother's footsteps."

Schmuecker, 28, of Norfolk was killed Saturday by a roadside bomb.

Family members learned the news Saturday night, when Nebraska Army National Guard members went to the Atkinson, Neb., home of his mother, Patty Schmuecker.

Jacob Schmuecker was 10 months into his tour in Iraq with the Nebraska National Guard's 755th Chemical Company, based in O'Neill.

Schmuecker was born in Kentucky, but his family later moved to Nebraska. He graduated from West Holt High School in Atkinson and attended Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

He joined the Guard in 2001 after a short stint as an Atkinson police officer.

Schmuecker and his wife, Lisa, were married more than four years ago and have three children, Dylan, 4; Kirsten, 3; and Bryce, 18 months.

"Dylan was really starting to take after" his father, said Lisa Schmuecker. "He wanted to do everything Daddy was doing."

She said all three children "loved being around their daddy, and he loved spending time with them. He'll live on through his children."

Jacob Schmuecker last visited Nebraska about three months ago while on leave. Shepperd said his brother kept in touch with family members regularly by phone and e-mail.

Shepperd and his brother were part of the same Guard unit, but medical reasons kept Shepperd from being sent overseas for a second tour, he said.

"I'd give anything if I could have been there with him," Shepperd said. "There's not a soldier out there that's in the unit who's not saying, 'It should have been me.' That's our mentality."

Shepperd described his brother as "calm, cool and collected" about everything. His demeanor rarely changed, even after learning that he would been deployed to Iraq.

Schmuecker felt it was his duty to fight for his country, Shepperd said. "He admired everything about the military. He was proud to be able to put that uniform on and represent his country."

Funeral services were pending.

Schmuecker is the 64th person from Nebraska and western Iowa, or with ties to the area, to have died in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He is the second from the 755th Chemical Reconnaissance/ Decontamination Company. On May 25, Spc. William Bailey III was killed by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq.

From the Omaha World Herald