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Marine dad plans deep talk with son

Editor's note: This is an occasional series featuring stories of soldiers far from home and their loved ones here.

What it's like to be a Marine Reserve with a 5 year old son, and explain to him why Daddy must leave.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/EastVolusia/03NewsEAST02121305.htm

By AUDREY PARENTE
Staff Writer

Last update: December 13, 2005


Q. Your Marine Reserve unit has been deployed, and your 5-year-old son, Jacob, will visit you at Camp LeJeune, N.C., during the holidays. What will you tell him about leaving for Iraq soon after Christmas?

The most important thing to explain to him is, yes Daddy's going to a dangerous area, but I have to make sure he is not afraid. I want him to understand there's a chance I may not come home and not fool him, but that my friends are going to be watching my back and I'll be watching their backs. The main thing is to do our job and come home.

Name, rank and age: Sgt. Jeffrey Schoenwetter, 36

Military Branch: U.S. Marine Reserves

Assignment: Training in Jacksonville, N.C., and soon headed to Iraq.

Schoenwetter family
Schoenwetter poses with his son Jacob on his last night in Florida.
Q. How did you prepare for this deployment?

The military sends word down through the chain of command that we are being activated -- about three months before activation. We get our shots for going overseas, take care of paperwork, send letters to our employers. We get a letter telling us what time and day we have to show up -- usually about three days out.

Q. What will you take with you?

They don't want anybody to go into combat without all their gear -- uniforms, boots, pistol and belt, magazine pouches, load bearing vests, sappi (steel) plates which goes inside our body armor to help protect us a little more. It's close to 100 pounds of gear.

Q. When did you join the Marine Reserves?

I joined the Marines right out of high school in 1987. I signed the papers at 17 and went to boot camp in 1988, and joined Bravo Company, with the Marine Reserve unit's amphibious vehicle mechanics. In 1991, I was in Desert Storm outside of Kuwait City as a section mechanic with a platoon -- for an amphibious armored personnel carrier. In 1995, I got out of the reserves for eight years. I rejoined in 2003. In 2004 I went to South America for six months and in 2005 to Louisiana after Katrina through October.

Q. You have served in a lot of locations, but what did you do back home?

I'm originally from Cincinnati, but I lived in Spring Lake, Ky., until I was 15 and then moved to Port Orange. I graduated from Spruce Creek (High School) in 1987 and have done a few things -- construction in Edgewater, mechanics school at Daytona Beach Community College and worked for Gary Yeomans Ford for a year, then the Volusia County Fire Department and back to DBCC for EMT and firefighter training. Then I drove a non-emergency ambulance for Para Transit in New Smyrna Beach. I worked for Alpha Therapeutics in Holly Hill as a phlebotomist, for Water Wheels, and in '98 at Fish Memorial in New Smyrna Beach as an emergency room technician. For the last eight years, I was a Sanford firefighter.