News

Family, friends remember Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller

Written by Nicole Chynoweth/The Hanover Evening Sun | Feb 21, 2016 9:01 AM
adam_schoeller_marine.jpg

Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller(Photo: Courtesy of Genie Leigh Photography)

(Carlisle) -- A big, goofy ball of fun.

That's how Marine Sgt. Bobby Johnson described his beloved comrade, Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, as he choked back tears outside of Carlisle Evangelical Free Church on Saturday.

Johnson, like many others, wants people to remember Schoeller for his bright, infectious smile, a signature grin that his parents described as "too big for his face."

Family and friends gathered Saturday afternoon at the Carlisle church to pay their respects to Schoeller, a serviceman who was one of 12 Marines aboard two helicopters that crashed off Hawaii in January during a training exercise. A memorial service held inside the church's massive, auditorium-like worship center drew hundreds of people, many of whom spoke of Schoeller's cheerful demeanor and dedication to his country.

"It was absolutely beautiful," said Johnson, 25, of Jacksonville, North Carolina. "He would have been really proud."

Paster Robert Hylton of Country & Town Baptist Church - the church Schoeller and his family attended - officiated the emotional service in honor of the 25- year-old Gardners native, who had worked as a crew chief and resided at Kaneohe Air Base in Hawaii with his wife, Samantha Wickel-Schoeller.

"His faith in the Lord was genuine and real and strong," Hylton said.

The dimly lit room exuded a somber tone. A string ensemble played melancholy music as Schoeller's admirers embraced and headed toward their seats. Marines, decked out in their dress blues, dotted the sea of mourners dressed in black.

On the church's stage, ornate floral arrangements, including a star made of yellow blossoms, accented a podium where several people whose lives were touched by Schoeller shared their memories. A regal portrait of Schoeller from his wedding day glowed under a soft light.

A projector displayed photographs of Schoeller, from his days in diapers to his days in the service. Affectionate pictures of him and his wife showed a young couple very much in love, and images of Schoeller among his friends and fellow serviceman depicted his fun-loving nature.

The ceremony began with a musical tribute from Schoeller's alma mater, Boiling Springs High School. Its student band, in which Schoeller played the trombone, contributed a recorded performance of "It is Well with My Soul" to the service. As it played, Marines placed mementos at a white battlefield cross on stage. By the end of the song, the cross was adorned with a tactical vest, boots, a helmet and a rifle.

Schoeller achieved numerous accolades in his military career. A paper program handed out to attendees included a list of his service accolades: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal for Individual Action, Air Medal for Strike/Flight, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation and a NATO Medal for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

"Quite an accomplishment for one so young," Hylton said.

The pastor recognized the many Marines and military-related groups that traveled to the service to honor a fellow patriot. A video played of Marine Maj. Keith Brenize reading a poignant letter describing Marines' dedication to their country and their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice.

"I knew that he had my back," said Capt. Darrin Carrier, who worked with Schoeller and described him as the epitome of a calm, relaxed professional. "He was the best of the best."

Schoeller's uncle through marriage, Steve Barrick, and his cousin, PJ Walters, gave a tearful performance of "I Drive Your Truck," a country song about a man mourning the loss of his brother, who died in the line of duty in the U.S. Army.

Sgt. Justin Milner shared stories about Schoeller's indelible sense of humor, as well as his grief over losing his friend.

"He's the second man to make me cry," he said. "My 15-week-old was the first."

Schoeller's younger brother, Collin Schoeller, incited much laughter from the audience as he spoke about his older sibling's jokester personality. He said when he was young, Schoeller once convinced him it would be "a really good idea" to walk across a frozen pond near the orchard in their backyard. As he made his way onto the frozen surface, Schoeller threw rocks at it and laughed hysterically as the ice began to break.

All joking aside, Schoeller had a soft side and was very protective of his little brother.

"I always knew I was safe when he was around," he said.

U.S. Rep. Louis Barletta presented Schoeller's family with an American flag that flew over the White House on Feb. 1 in Schoeller's honor. Bagpipe-player Ryan Shaver performed "Amazing Grace," and after a closing prayer, the audience stood for a moving performance of taps.

Many wept throughout the touching service. Hylton read a thank-you letter penned by Schoeller's parents, Ralph and Laurie, and his wife.

"As we move forward, may it be a comfort to picture Adam with that familiar grin; 'A smile that was too big for his face,'" the letter stated.

The service seemed to have one common thread running through each speaker's sentiments, a feeling Chelle McIntyre-Brewer, Schoeller's eighth grade English teacher, summarized succinctly and simply.

"Adam will live on."

*This article is part of a content-sharing agreement between WITF and the The Hanover Evening Sun.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »