Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Juan Garcia-Schill laid to rest

An overflow crowd honored the life of Lance Cpl. Juan Manuel Garcia-Schill, a 20-year-old who wanted to help children from Oregon to Iraq.

Garcia-Schill died July 1 during combat operations in Fallujah, cutting short the life of a man who taught soccer and Spanish to children in Grants Pass and hoped to teach elementary school when his time in the Marines ended.

"He had a lot of pride in who he was," Lance Cpl. Richard Bowen, a friend of Garcia-Schill's for eight years, said Sunday, according to the Herald and News newspaper of Klamath Falls.

"We said we would do for each other and watch out for each other. One of the last things he said to me was, 'If anything happens to me, I want to be remembered for being me.'"

Garcia-Schill was remembered as a young man who had a good sense of humor and liked to laugh. But, it was noted, he was serious about his Mexican heritage and his desire to serve the United States. His great-grandfather and two uncles had been in the Marines.

Many classmates and friends came from Grants Pass, where the Marine who was known as Juan Manuel Garcia graduated from high school in 2005.

Family members came from all over Oregon and California. Mourners filled the chapel at the cemetery, and dozens had to sit outside and watch the service on a TV monitor.

Vince Aguilera, a campus security officer at Grants Pass High School, said Garcia-Schill impressed him as someone who was "interested in everything," including some people seemed to treat him badly solely because he was of Mexican descent.

"There are many Mexican-American boys dying for this country," Aguilera said. "We talked a lot about diversity and the problems we had in our community," Aguilera told the Mail-Tribune newspaper of Medford.

"I see here we have people from all different races," Aguilera said. "What a price to pay to bring everyone together."

Gov. Ted Kulongoski eulogized Garcia-Schill as "Oregonian of overwhelming promise" and a Marine who no doubt found much of his strength and courage in the love of his family.

"I have searched my soul trying to understand who God would demand such a terrible sacrifice," Kulongoski said. "I do not know the answer. No one does."

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden spoke of Garcia-Schill's desire to help children, as did Rod Schill, a great uncle who gave concluding remarks by reading, at the request of the Marine's mother, what Garcia-Schill had said when he deployed.

Garcia-Schill told his family that he was going to Iraq for the honor and protection of his country and family. But after serving in Iraq, he altered his reason to the "honor and protection of my country, my family and the children here."

Schill said could identify with how Garcia-Schill felt. As a former Marine in Vietnam: "I remember how sorry I felt for the children in that war."

After mourners paid their final respects, the honor guard carried the casket to a hearse, which carried Garcia-Schill's body about 200 yards to the grave site. After the casket was lowered, family members dropped flowers into the grave and then tossed soil atop the casket.

Garcia-Schill, who was born in Klamath Falls, was buried next to his great-grandmother and great-grandfather.

From the Oregonian

Related Link:
Juan Garcia-Schill remembered

Related Link:
Juan M. Garcia Schill dies 'while conducting combat operations'