Memorializing Cousins Lost in Conflicts

Descendants of Hans Schmidt have participated in all the major wars that have involved the United States, from the American Revolution (in which some of Hans’s descendants were conscripted by the Hessian state to fight for the British), to the US Civil War (in which several of our immigrant ancestors fought), to the World Wars and Asian wars of the twentieth century, to the peacekeeping missions and Global War on Terror in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Many members of our family tree have also given their lives in these conflicts. On this Memorial Day, we remember and commemorate these American descendants of Hans Schmidt who fought and died for their country. The four family members below are just a select few of those members of our family who have made this sacrifice, and we are continually discovering more of these deceased veterans as we conduct further genealogical research. The Hans Schmidt Family Association highlights the service and sacrifice of these four veterans as examples of our family’s patriotism:

Benjamin George Schafer (1922-1944)

Benjamin George Schafer was born on April 19th, 1922, in West Bend, Iowa. Benjamin, who went by the nicknames “Bennie” and “Toby,” was the eighth-born child of Gottlieb Friedrich Schafer and Elizabeth Marie (Schmidt) Schafer. His older siblings were Carl (1910-2007), Louis (1911-1990), William (1913-1979), Frances (1915-1916), Robert (1917-1983), Otto (1919-1979), and Ernest (1920-1998), and his younger siblings were Eleanor (1924-2011), Wilma (1925-1997), Betty (1927-2007), Leona (1929-2014), and Donald (1930-2005). Bennie attended school in West Bend through the 8th grade. He hired out as a farmhand in Nobles County, Minnesota when he was 17 years old, and then came back to West Bend to work for the Standard Oil station. In January 1943, Bennie was inducted into the US military, where he would serve as a Technician (fifth grade) in the Field Artillery. During the year 1943, he received training in Texas and Louisiana, and in January 1944 he was stationed in Europe, where he served in France. Not long afterward, his company was in German territory. In Germany, on November 23rd, 1944, he was seriously injured in battle. He was flown to a field hospital in southern Holland, where he passed away at the age of 22 and was buried on November 25th. A funeral in absentia was held for Bennie at Peace Lutheran Church back in West Bend, Iowa, on January 7th, 1945, with a tombstone placed in West Bend Cemetery.

John Edward Van Loh (1929-1951)

John Edward Van Loh was born on February 1st, 1929, in Salem, Oregon. John was the elder son of John Norwin Van Loh and Etta Gertrude (Weir) Van Loh. His younger sister was Jacqueline Margarette (1930-2020). As a young man, he was employed by the government as a highway maintenance worker. On November 1st, 1950, he joined the US Army, where he served with the HQ 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion, attaining the rank of Corporal. A little over one year later, he was killed at the age of 22 in a landmine explosion in North Korea on November 20th, 1951. His remains were brought back to the United States to be interred in the Belcrest Memorial Park cemetery in Salem, Oregon.

Marcus Guy Fiebelkorn (1946-1968)

Marcus Guy Fiebelkorn was born on September 25th, 1946, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Marcus was the eldest son of Carl Oscar Fiebelkorn and Clarissa Ruth (Olsen) Fiebelkorn, and a grandson of Clara Martha (Bohn) Fiebelkorn and Albert Frederick William Fiebelkorn. He had two younger siblings: Jane Ann, and Daniel Chester (1951-2008). Marcus attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, before enlisting on June 9th, 1967 in the US Marine Corps, where he served in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On February 19th of that year, he began his tour in Vietnam. Less than three months later, in Tam Ky, Quang Nam province, South Vietnam, he died at the age of 21 as a result of a gunshot wound to the heart received during combat. He was awarded the Purple Heart post-mortem, and his body was flown back to the United States to be interred at Greenmont Cemetery in Durango, Colorado.

Jourdan Lin Grez (1981-2005)

Jourdan Lin Grez was born on January 22nd, 1981, in Long Branch, New Jersey. Jourdan was a son of Armand C. Grez Jr. and Andrea (Lindemann) Grez, and a descendant of the immigrants Conrad Lindemann and Anna Dorothea (Collmann) Lindemann. His brothers were Aric and Armand III. He spent the first part of his childhood in Little Silver, New Jersey, attending Holy Cross Grammar School in Rumson. At the age of 10, he moved with his family to Richmond, Virginia, where he graduated from James River High School. He attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he majored in finance and minored in international business. On February 23rd, 2003, Jourdan joined the US Marine Corps Reserves, where he would serve with the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, based out of Roanoke, Virginia. He was deployed to Iraq, and he died on May 11th, 2005 at the age of 24, when his amphibious assault vehicle struck an explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Karabilah. He left behind a girlfriend, Blythe Lael Lovell, and a son, Colin Taylor Lovell Grez. Jourdan’s remains were brought home to the United States and interred in Arlington National Cemetery on May 27th, 2005. He was awarded the Purple Heart, post-mortem.

2 thoughts on “Memorializing Cousins Lost in Conflicts”

  1. Correction: You have Marcus Guy Fiebelkorn serving with I Company, 30th Battalion, 27th Marines. Lieutenant Fiebelkorn served with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines. He was my platoon commander. I was one of the 3 sergeants leading the platoon’s squads. Lieutenant Fiebelkorn was highly respected by the Marines he led.
    Semper Fidelis,
    Gary Harlan

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