SPRING HILL, FL, USA U.S. Army SSG, COMPANY C, 2D BATTALION, 503D INFANTRY (TF BAYONET) VICENZA, ITALY TARIN KOWT, AFGHANISTAN 07/25/2005
Michael Schafer was born in Illinois on August 16, 1979 and passed away on July 25, 2005 at the age of 25. He will be remembered forever.
Michael played Little League at Deltona Park. He liked the scariest rides. He sat with the cool kids in the back of the bus in middle school. He won the Iron Man trophy playing eighth-grade football for coach Bill Vonada. The trophy’s still in the attic at his parents’ home here.
Basketball was his favorite sport, and Michael Jordan was his favorite player. He had posters of him all over the wall in his room and even a life-size cardboard cutout in the corner. He once told his mom he was going to name his first child Michael Jordan: Michael Jordan Schafer. In driveway pickup games, his best move was straight to the hoop: full speed, straight ahead. When he played for the school, he dived for loose balls and cheered the loudest from the bench.
As a senior at Springstead High School, he had off campus lunch, and he and his friends would eat at Taco Bell or Subway on the corner of Mariner and Spring Hill. “He wasn’t popular because he was flashy,” Coach Vonada said. “He was popular because he was genuine.”
He graduated from Springstead in 1998. He enlisted in the Army in January of 1999. He was currently serving with Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy. He would have gotten out in January 2007.
He was married on December 30, 2000 to the former Danielle Daye – their honeymoon was in a hotel room on Clearwater Beach. He had to be in Kosovo within the week.
One day in Kosovo, one of his fellow soldiers on the peacekeeping mission dared him to eat a grub for five bucks. Mike ate two.
He was one of the first paratroopers to jump into Kirkuk, Iraq, in March 2003. He helped secure a landing strip. He did nine months there and was awarded the Bronze Star. While serving in Iraq, two of his good friends were killed. One friend was killed when Mike, who was given the chance to come home for two weeks, turned it down so his friend could go home instead and meet his newborn child. After getting on a bus to take leave, his friend was killed, leaving Mike crushed. Before being deployed to Afghanistan, Mike went to see his friend’s parents.
He got a tattoo on his leg. It had a cross, a star and dog tags that were red, white and blue. “My Fallen Brothers,” it said. The last time Mike was home was Christmas 2004.
Mike talked about being a paramedic, a police officer, a firefighter – maybe even a Secret Service agent – but he went back to his home base in Vicenza, Italy, in January, then left for Afghanistan in April. He was to be there for a year. He had time off scheduled for October.
He was a member of a quick-response unit dispatched to help fellow soldiers under fire. He was killed around 6:00 a.m. Afghanistan time Monday, July 25, 2005. He was on a patrol near Kandahar, in a town called Oruzgan when he was shot once. He was up front as a squad leader. He told his squad to run, which is when he was shot again.
Staff Sergeant Michael W, Schafer, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, is the first soldier from Hernando County to be killed in current combat in Afghanistan or Iraq.