On that day, Capt. Joseph W. Schultz of Sacremento,
Calif.; Sgt. 1st Class Martin R. Apolinar of Phoenix; and
Sgt. Aaron J. Blasjo of Riverside, Calif., working out of
Special Operations Task Force – East in Afghanistan as part
of 3rd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A), were killed when the vehicle
in which they were riding was hit by a roadside bomb.
Nearly a month later, after the three men were laid to
rest, the group worked to heal from the tragedy of May 29 by
honoring the soldiers' lives in a unit memorial at the John
F. Kennedy Chapel on Fort Bragg, June 23.
epitomize the values and character of a green beret,” said
Lt. Col. Don Franklin, 3rd SFG (A) deputy commander,
speaking at the memorial on behalf of Group Commander, Col.
Mark C. Schwartz. “[Capt. Schultz] and his teammates fully
understood the dangers of combat and willingly placed their
lives on the line, operation after operation. They did so
because of the bond they had with their fellow teammates,
and their commitment to accomplishing the mission they set
out to do.”
During the memorial, the fallen soldiers
were honored with a roll call, a 21-gun salute, the playing
of Taps as well as a bagpiper performing “Amazing Grace.”
Personal vignettes were offered by close friends and
teammates of each respective soldier.
In speaking of
Schultz, one soldier spoke on behalf of one of Schultz'
teammates downrange: “[Capt. Schultz] was enthusiastic and
eager to take our team through train up as we prepared to
deploy. His enthusiasm did not stem from him being a young
captain. We joked with him that at 36, he was probably one
of the oldest captains in the Army,” the Special Forces
soldier said. “What drove him was his belief in what he was
doing, and that our country is the greatest on Earth. Capt.
Joseph Schultz gave his life leading my team in battle
against the enemies of the United States. He represents the
best of what this country has to offer, and I am proud to
have known him and am honored to have served with him.”
Apolinar's former team sergeant spoke about the type of
soldier he was, and what he represented.
sergeant said he came back from an Afghanistan tour and met
the new guy, Apolinar, shortly after returning.
“Who's this new guy and what is up with his hair?” the team
sergeant asked after meeting Apolinar, joking about
Apolinar's thick hair which earned him the name “helmet
hair” by his teammates.
“Marty turned out to be an
extremely impressive weapons sergeant,” the team sergeant
went on to say. “He had such an awesome work ethic. You knew
if you gave him a mission, you didn't need to look over his
shoulder. I'll always love Marty as a brother for the rest
of my days. If not for men like Martin R. Apolinar, some of
the greatest men to walk this planet, this world would be a
worse place. His death is not in vain.”
behalf of Blasjo was a former teammate in the multi-purpose
canine section, whom Blasjo worked with alongside his
“He and his canine, Hunter, were
destined for great things,” the former teammate said. “Aaron
chose to step above and beyond. Aaron's family and friends
will always be in our thoughts and prayers. His was a great
loss not only to his family and friends, but to our
regiment. Rest in peace brother.”
Three photos of the
men stood at the forefront of the chapel. Shined boots and
M4s fitted with bayonets, dog tags hanging from them, stood
a silent tribute to the fallen soldiers.
salutes from service members concluded the ceremony as
one-by-one, chapel-goers stopped to pay a final farewell.
USA Patriotism! Note...
Capt. Joseph W. Schultz's military awards and decorations include the
Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Overseas Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Combat Infantryman Badge and Parachutists Badge. He also wore the Special Forces Tab and the Ranger Tab.
Class Martin R. Apolinar's military awards and decorations include the
Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Overseas Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge and Parachutists Badge. He earned the Special Forces Tab and Ranger Tab.
J. Blasjo's military awards and decorations include
the Bronze Star Medal, the
Purple Heart; the Army Commendation Medal; the Army Good
Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the
Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service
Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal; Special Forces Tab;
Combat Infantryman Badge; Parachutists Badge.