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Marine not remembered because of how he died...

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    Marine not remembered because of how he died...

    Marine left off memorial because of how he died

    By Louis Hansen - The Virginian Pilot via AP
    Posted : Wednesday Nov 19, 2008 19:55:21 EST

    HAMPTON, Va. — Marine Lance Cpl. Darrell Schumann, a 25-year-old from Hampton, fought bloody door-to-door battles for three months in Fallujah in late 2004. A few weeks later, he boarded a helicopter for the first leg of his trip home.
    The helicopter, carrying Schumann and 30 comrades, flew into a sandstorm and crashed in the Iraqi desert, killing everyone on board. It remains the greatest single loss of U.S. troops in the Iraq war.
    President Bush praised Schumann by name for his valor. But his name will not be found on the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.
    State officials have deemed that only the names of service members killed in hostile combat in the Middle East will be added to the stone-and-glass walls, which bear the names of 11,600 Virginians killed since World War II.
    Recent veterans who died under other circumstances, such as aircraft accidents, are excluded.
    The policy has changed since the memorial was erected, and the names of many service members who were killed in accidents are found on the wall.
    Rick Schumann, Darrell’s father, wants the policy changed again.
    The memorial will soon undergo an $8 million expansion, funded mostly by taxpayers.
    “We want them to do it right,” Schumann said.
    The state relies on the Defense Department’s classification of deaths: killed in action, hostile casualty or nonhostile casualty. To be included on the Virginia memorial, a service member must fall into one of the first two categories.
    According to a Virginian-Pilot review of Department of Defense records, at least two dozen service members with Virginia roots died in accidents or other noncombat scenarios related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 140 Virginians have died in the two conflicts since 2003.
    “Our policy is that you must die from hostile action,” said Del. Frank Hargrove, chairman of the Virginia War Memorial board of trustees.
    The policy was tightened after the first Gulf War, Hargrove said. Both Hargrove and Schumann agree that the names of several veterans who died in accidents are found on the memorial.
    Hargrove said he is sympathetic to Schumann’s case. He suggested that Schumann ask the Defense Department to change the cause of the Marine’s death.
    “It’s a damn tragedy,” said Hargrove, a veteran who served in Japan immediately after World War II. “But I’m going to stick to our guidelines.”
    The Virginia War Memorial was established by the General Assembly after World War II. Set on a hill overlooking the James River less than two miles from the Capitol, it includes a flag display and an education area.
    State officials expect to break ground next month on an expansion to the monument and a center to display artifacts and accommodate school and veterans groups.
    The General Assembly earmarked $6 million for the expansion, to be released when private donations reach $2 million. The memorial is close to reaching that goal, said executive director Jon Hatfield.
    New names will be added to the wall within the next two years, he said.
    Rick Schumann visited the memorial in April for a ceremonial bill-signing. During the event, he spotted a sign listing Virginians killed in action in the two ongoing wars and the bombing of the Norfolk-based destroyer Cole. Their names would be added to the Virginia War Memorial.
    He noticed that his son’s name and several others were missing from the list. Memorial staff members told him about the policy.
    Schumann, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant with 29 years of service, called the policy unfair to many men and women who have died in combat zones while on active duty.
    “They all should be recognized, regardless of the conflict,” he said.
    Schumann returned to the monument a few days later with his laptop. He copied several names and checked them against a list of war dead on the Library of Virginia Web site.
    In his small sample, he found several names of men killed accidentally, some even on U.S. soil.
    He found one veteran killed in an accident in Miami Beach, Fla., in 1944. Several Vietnam veterans on the memorial died as a result of nonhostile actions, according to his research. He said he believes there are many more.
    Del. Vivian Watts met Rick Schumann at the bill-signing ceremony. She said it’s time to consider changing the memorial policy, even if that means the General Assembly has to pass new legislation.
    “When we vote on something like that, we’re not voting with a narrow, bureaucratic definition of ‘veteran,’ “ she said, adding, “You want to make sure nobody suffers.”
    Recently, Schumann visited one permanent memorial in Virginia that bears the name of his son.
    It is a white headstone, set in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery.

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