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Death of Sgt. Thomas Z. Spitzer sparks outpouring on social media

Friends of Sgt. Thomas Z. Spitzer, a Marine from New Braunfels who was killed in action Wednesday, took to social media this week to express their shock at his death and send messages of support to family members.

Spitzer, a 23-year-old mortarman, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Twentynine Palms, Calif. He was killed while conducting combat operations in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. He was on his second tour.

Chris Brown, whose Facebook page lists him as an Army gunner, said on a page for Spitzer’s memorial service that he was “still in shock.”

“Words cannot describe the quality of man and Marine that was just taken from us,” Brown wrote.

Spitzer was close friends with Lance Cpl. John Farias, another New Braunfels Marine who was killed in action in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung reported. Spitzer died just a few days before the three-year anniversary of his friend’s death on June 28.

The two men played football together at Canyon High School. In February, Spitzer, who has few posts on his Facebook page, wrote a brief memorial to his friend and included a photo of a memorial bracelet inscribed with Farias’ name.

“It’s about that time again. Here’s to one helluva guardian angel. Love ya bro,” he wrote.

His mother, Jean Bellar Spitzer, commented: “Keep him safe John, I’m counting on you.”

Spitzer’s funeral service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Canyon High School in New Braunfels. Attendees are asked to wear red or black and bring pictures of Spitzer. The service will also accept donations for a scholarship and a plaque of Spitzer.

“He deserved only the best, being one of the best guys I knew,” said Tanner Luckemeyer, a friend of Spitzer’s since high school who’s helping organize the service.

Spitzer had gotten engaged on New Year’s Day, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung reported.

The paper’s Facebook page received dozens of comments from friends and community members praising Spitzer’s character.

“Thomas was 12 years old and was on an All Star team that I was coaching,” Chris Chinni wrote. “One of the first times I spoke to him, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said ‘I want to be in the Armed Services, probably Marines.’ What an amazing answer from a 12 year old. His answers were always ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’ and it wasn’t fake, because that is who he was. He has been a hero of mine for a long time. He was always smiling.”

Spitzer first enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 2009.

Over the last five years, Spitzer earned several service awards including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

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