A Marine from Central New York has been killed in combat. The Department of Defense says Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider, 23, of Phoenix, NY, died Thursday in Afghanistan. He was scheduled to come home in August.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, NC.
"He is an American Hero," said Kyle's younger brother Kevin.
"He was a wonderful person, very caring, giving, loving, protective young man," said his Aunt and Godmother Carole Ozark.
Friday, Kyle's grandparents were flipping through photographs of their grandson. "The little guy who couldn't run straight, went on to be a track star and a hero to our country," said Kyle's Grandfather Richard Vrotny.
Kyle is a 2006 graduate of Baker High School in Baldwinsville. He was recently engaged to Theresa Dodge who serves in the Air Force, they met while Kyle was stationed in Washington D.C.
The Schneiders say Kyle always wanted to be a marine to protect his country, and those he loved at home. Just last week he stepped on an IED, his aunt says he suffered a concussion and lost some hearing. But he wouldn't stop fighting, a testament to his strength and spirit.
"I admire his bravery and commitment to his family, his country. And his willingness to give the ultimate," said Ozark. "July 4th will have a whole new meaning this year. But Kyle honey, we love you, we miss you, you've made us proud. And now it's time for us to make you proud."
"We had 23 years with him, I feel sorry for those who didn't get to meet Kyle," said his Grandmother Dianne Vrotny.
He joined the Marine Corps in March 2008 and was promoted to corporal June 1st of this year, according to ENCToday in Jacksonville. Schneider was deployed to Afghanistan this past January, it was his first tour of duty. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO Medal - ISAF Afghanistan. His family was able to see him off right before he deployed, his mother Lorie said as he was leaving, her son told her serving was about "honor and commitment."
Governor Andrew Cuomo has also directed flags at half-staff on Thursday, July 7th in honor of Cpl. Schneider.
"We will remember his dedication and his service to our country. This weekend, as we commemorate America's independence, we honor the soldiers like Corporal Schneider who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation," said Gov. Cuomo in a press release.
Friday, Kyle's parents and brother were at Dover Air Base to meet his casket. Funeral arrangements are in the works but Kyle will be buried at Arlington National Cemetary with full military honors. There will also be a memorial service for him in Baldwinsville. His casket is expected to fly into Hancock early next week.