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Fallen Hero US Army SPC. David Schoof

Salina, KS

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Paying Tribute, 12/2/2007

By Duane Schrag, Salina Journal











The wind was biting and it looked as if rain could resume at any minute, but the four young children waiting patiently at the curb on South Ohio Street were in good spirits.

"Thirteen, fourteen," one called out as two cars in quick succession beeped their horns in passing. Their mother was fighting the 30 mph south wind as she held a pole bearing an American flag. "Fifteen."

The clutch of people -- grandmother Nancy Quinn, daughter Judy Quinn, and Ashlyn, Alec, Blake and Arianna, ages 3 to 8 -- were waiting at the corner of Claflin and Ohio for the procession carrying the body of Spc. David K.

Schoof, 23, a Salina native who died Nov. 21 in a motorcycle crash in Hawaii, where he was stationed.

He recently had completed a tour of Iraq.

"We're here to show our support for the family," Nancy Quinn said. Cars whizzing past on Ohio frequently beeped their horns during the 25 minutes the group stood huddled at the curb.

Quinn explained that her husband, Larry, himself a veteran, was one of the

16 Patriot Guard Riders leading the procession.

"Our son (John) is in the Air Force and has been in Kuwait and Afghanistan," Nancy Quinn said.

And then the flashing lights of the procession appeared to the north.

"You guys remember what you're supposed to do when they come by?" Nancy Quinn asked.

They did. The bikes rumbled past, their riders sitting erect and grim. Then came the limousines filled with uniformed men and women, then a short procession of cars. The children stood, hands over their hearts.

Protesters present

The route that had been announced for the procession had been to take Ohio to Neal, and then west the short distance to Trinity United Methodist Church, 901 E. Neal. But the procession detoured west on Magnolia, avoiding members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, whose members protest military funerals and who had obtained a permit to protest.

Clint Young, who lives nearby, said he saw a group holding signs such as, "God is your enemy."

"It just infuriated me when I saw them," Young said. "I'm a Baptist, and he makes my religion look bad."

The procession didn't go past that corner. It arrived from the west and pulled into the church parking lot, where dozens of men and women stood erect, each holding an American flag. As the hearse stopped and a U.S. Army honors team marched stiffly to ease the casket out of the hearse, the Patriot Guard silently formed a huge semi-circle.

The bagpipes played. Some watching wept.

Vets get involved

Bonnie Axtell, Salina, was one of the people who helped organize the Patriot Guard Riders Saturday. She said many of those who volunteer are veterans of the Vietnam War.

"When they came back, they weren't honored the way they were meant to be,"

she said. "And they vowed it would never happen again."

Inside, Schoof's life was remembered -- for his enthusiasm, resourcefulness and joy. The sanctuary was filled.

"Despite what some of our visitors from Topeka might say, this was not God's plan," said Pastor Barry Dundas.

Church leader Bert Polk challenged those attending the service to live with Schoof's passion.

"David lived on the edge," said Bert Polk, a church leader. "Let's live on the edge for Christ."

Schoof was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park.

Reporter Duane Schrag can be reached at 822-1422 or by e-mail at dschrag@salina.com.


©Salina Journal