Banner honors fallen soldier
County marks Veterans Day by dedicating ‘Hometown Hero’ banner honoring late Abington native
NORRISTOWN >> With the dedication of a banner honoring the military service and sacrifice of Marine Capt. Samuel Schultz, his relatives, friends and fellow veterans ensured the Abington native will not be forgotten.
“We must never forget,” Schultz’s father, Mitchell, said Monday as a “Hometown Hero” banner honoring his son was unveiled during a somber ceremony outside the Montgomery County Courthouse on the Veterans Day holiday.
Captain Schultz, 28, who grew up in the Huntingdon Valley area and graduated from Abington Senior High School, was one of four Marines killed in a military helicopter crash during a training exercise on April 3 in southern California.
“He died doing what he wanted to do. He wanted to serve the country and he also wanted to fly and that’s what he was doing,” Mitchell Schultz, also a veteran, said about his son.
Mitchell Schultz described the banner dedication ceremony as “heartwarming and at the same time gut-wrenching.”
“It’s an honor to have everybody come out here and honor our son. But, these things also are reminders of the tragedy of what happened,” Mitchell Schultz said.
The elder Schultz described his son as “funny, articulate and a go-getter.”
“As I said many, many times, he lived more in his short time than many of us will ever live in a full lifetime. We’re surprised constantly by the outpouring of people that he touched that we never knew he did. So, we find out more about our son every day even though he’s not here,” Mitchell Schultz, flanked by his wife, Julie, said proudly.
“We just appreciate all of the support that we’ve gotten from all over the world. We still get letters from people who we don’t know and they tell us stories about Sam and you know that they knew Sam by the stories that they told. And we appreciate all of it,” Julie Schultz added.
Captain Schultz, officials said, enrolled in the Navy ROTC program at Penn State and joined the Marine Corps after graduation.
“Captain Schultz has deep roots in Montgomery County. He was a six-year veteran of the Marines and the third-generation of the
Schultz family to become a pilot,” county Commissioner Chairwoman Valerie A. Arkoosh told those who gathered under a gray sky on the courthouse plaza for the ceremony. “We are so grateful for the service that he chose to give to our country.”
Schultz is the 18th U.S. service member from Montgomery County, who lost their lives during service to the country since Sept. 11, 2001, to be honored with a “Hometown Hero” banner. The colorful banners, each embossed with a photo of the service member, flutter in the breeze from the light poles at the courthouse entrance off Main Street.
“It’s a vibrant symbol of his service. This banner will fly here at our county courthouse so that we can all continue to remember the sacrifice that he made for our nation. This will be a visual representation of our promise to never forget,” Arkoosh said.
Several local members of the American Gold Star Mothers took part in unveiling the banner and placing a wreath nearby.
Family members of the fallen hero and other spectators appeared somber as a lone bugler, standing in a nearby courtyard, played “Taps,” channeling the mournful tune into the chilly, morning air.
The dedication ceremony also included a rifle salute. Two CH-53 Marine Corps helicopters also completed a flyover of the courthouse to honor Schultz.
“I am tremendously proud of your son and his heroic actions and his service to this nation. I admire it and he is by far, the full definition of a hometown hero,” county Commissioner Joseph C. Gale addressed Schultz’s family. “All veterans make sacrifices. It’s a big sacrifice and it’s men and women that are willing to do it to protect our freedoms and we can’t thank them enough.”
County Commissioner Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. said the “Hometown Hero” banners “are vivid symbols” of service members “taken from us too soon.”
“These men and women served in all branches of the armed services and they were from all corners of the county,” Lawrence said.
The other 17 “Hometown Heroes” honored with banners are: John Bubeck of Collegeville, age 25; Paul Karpowich of Bridgeport, age 30; Kurt Krout of Spinnerstown, age 43; John Kulick of Harleysville, age 35; Nathan Raudenbush of Douglassville, age 25; Anthony Sherman of Pottstown, age 43; Marc J. Small of Collegeville, age 29; Tristen Smith of Bryn Athyn, age 23; Jeffrey Toczylowski of Upper Moreland, age 30; Travis Zimmerman of New Berlinville, age 19; Mark P. Phelan of Green Lane, age 44; Joseph Basil Maglione III of Lansdale, age 22; Travis M. Stottlemyer of Hatfield, age 20; John Todd III of Bridgeport, age 24; Brandon J. VanParys of Schwenksville, age 20; Jake S. Moletzsky of Norristown, age 26; and Eric F. Shellenberger of Pennsburg, age 36.
The Montgomery County commissioners view the latest “Hometown Hero” banner unveiled at courthouse on Veterans Day to honor Marine Capt. Samuel Schultz, 28, of Abington.