Ohio Community Grieves for Fallen Marines
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
This is a time of mourning for some Ohio families and their neighbors. They're preparing to receive the remains of 19 Marines killed in Iraq this week. These Reservists were members of a unit based in Brookpark, a suburb of Cleveland. NPR's Cheryl Corley visited one of the families.
CHERYL CORLEY reporting:
It was 5:45 Wednesday morning with Paul Schroeder sat straight up in the bed. He knew something was wrong. Several hours later, Marines would come to his home and tell him and his wife, Rosemary Palmer, that their son was dead.
Mr. PAUL SCHROEDER: It's a parent's sixth sense maybe. I just felt it.
CORLEY: Lance Corporal Edward Schroeder was 23 and one of 14 Marines who died in a roadside explosion. Five others from the Ohio unit were killed earlier in the week while on sniper duty. Sitting at their dining room table, Schroeder's parents and his older sister, Amanda(ph), sifted through a handful of his pictures.
AMANDA: So that was my graduation, but it was just showing, like, how, you know, he was always, like, a little bit of a ham.
CORLEY: A young Edward preens in the picture. In another family favorite, there's Edward the preteen dressed in a tuxedolike suit with a dummy by his side for his bumbling magician act. Reporters have come to the house all day to talk to the family. Palmer hands out a sheet of paper. It says her son's nickname was Augie. He spent his preschool years in China. He became a certified emergency medical technician in high school. It's a list Palmer prepared before she knew for certain that her son had died.
Mrs. ROSEMARY PALMER: Because I wanted people to know Augie. The company's getting smaller and smaller because more and more guys have been killed. So it's getting to the point where if you're getting 14 guys, the odds are getting really tight. And so the chances of it being him were pretty high. So I wrote that so that I could have it. I called it his vita because I didn't want to call it anything else.
CORLEY: When he was little, Palmer says she wouldn't let her son play with guns. She certainly did not want him involved in the military, but Edward Schroeder says his son was a determined young man who followed through when his mind was set, and he liked doing things that were difficult.
Mr. SCHROEDER: The Marines were like that to him. This is difficult. This is something that not everybody does.
CORLEY: Schroeder says his son has always believed in serving his country, whether it was lifeguarding at the local swimming pool, serving as an emergency technician or going to Iraq, but while the family is clearly proud of Edward Schroeder, his death solidifies their protest against the war. Amanda says her younger brother was her best friend and she knows his death along with the others will have an impact.
AMANDA: Everyone who wants peace in the first place is going to be angry and then people who, you know, were thinking that this was a good idea might start to think that it's not. I don't know. I mean, I'm a pessimist. I did not support this war but I obviously supported my brother. I don't think his death is going to change like what the administration wants to do, but I think it should.
(Soundbite of electronic gate)
CORLEY: At the Marine Battalion headquarters in Brookpark, an electronic gate swings open to let cars on to the grounds. In front of the chain-link fence, residents come by creating a makeshift memorial. There are crosses, flags. Nelda DeLessio(ph) had come to leave roses. Her 18-year-old son O'Bryan(ph) is a member of the Brookpark unit. News of the latest deaths left her rattled.
Ms. NELDA DeLESSIO: It make me feel sad, concerned for the safety of my son over there. I'm very sad for the family who have lost their loved ones over there.
CORLEY: By the street in front of the Reserve Center, Erin Keeling(ph) and a co-worker have planted nearly 20 small American flags. Keeling's brother served in the battalion's Akron unit and also died in Iraq more than a month ago.
Ms. ERIN KEELING: It's just when you think that you're kind of getting over things, something else there, so...
Ms. KEELING: ...it's rough. We're praying for all these boys and girls that are over there. And Kelly(ph) and I just wanted to do our part this afternoon, so it's nothing in the scheme of things, but I don't know. We're just praying for everyone I guess.
CORLEY: Throughout the day, residents continued to bring momentos to honor the slain Marines. City and military officials are also planning to hold a more official memorial. Those details will be announced later today.
Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Brookpark, Ohio.
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