With the current issues surrounding the conflict in Afghanistan, I thought I would do a post dedicated to a young man who fought and died serving his country.
Richard "Ricky" Phillip Schoener was born on 5 November 1982 in Pottsville, PA, but moved and became a resident of Hayes, LA.
In 2001, he graduated with honors from Bell City High in Bell City, LA, where he was the senior class president and prom king. He had originally planned to attend college, but, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he decided to postpone that goal
and enlisted in the Marine Corps that same year. He said "that if anybody had to take a bullet to save a buddy, he wanted to be the one."
He attended recruit training on Parris Island before attending the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, NC in 2002.
After graduation, he attended the Security Force Close Quarters Battle School. In 2003 he was assigned to the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment in Kings Bay, GA.
In 2004 he received orders to Marine Corps Base Hawaii and was assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment. In November, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On 8 May 2005, while conducting security patrols in the Mayl Valley, Alishang District and Laghman Province, an opium-producing area 60 miles east of the capital of Kabul, Ricky’s squad became the assault element in the counter-attack against an Al Qaeda and Associated Movement ambush position. He became the point man for his squad while leading his fire team and closing with the enemy under the cover of close air support. Upon closing with the enemy position and while conducting a search of an enemy body, Ricky and a fellow Marine noticed movement in a fortified cave just ten meters from their position. With little regard for his personal safety, Ricky valiantly assaulted the position to clear it of enemy personnel. In the process, he received multiple wounds from enemy automatic small arms fire. Despite his wounds, Ricky continued to fire on the enemy position while covering his fellow wounded Marine and identifying the enemy position to the remainder of his squad so that they could position themselves appropriately. He continued to fire from his exposed position until mortally wounded by two enemy fragmentation grenades. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty, Ricky reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Ricky's step-grandmother said that his family had just returned home from a camping trip Sunday evening when three men in uniform showed up at their door. The minute they saw them, they knew Ricky was dead. He was 22 years old.
His high school principal said that his loss was a great blow to the community. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and baseball. Ricky was a member of St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church and was a 3rd Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
“I looked up the definition of ambition, and it said ‘a desire to succeed.’ Ricky was the most ambitious person I ever met,” said Cpl. Nathan Valencia.
Ricky's personal awards include the Bronze Star with a combat distinguishing device, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War On Terror Service Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Combat Action Ribbon.
It is because of men and women like Ricky who serve and sacrifice everything to ensure that we keep the freedoms we have and enjoy on a daily basis, even if we take them for granted most of the time. May we never forget Ricky and the rest of our troops.