Schweinfurt holds service for soldier killed in standoff
By KEVIN DOUGHERTY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 30, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — He arrived on post last July while his unit was in Iraq, so most of the soldiers never had a chance to know Pvt. Jeremiah Carmack, even after they returned a few months later.
But he was still one of them, a brother in arms. And so they went to a base chapel in Schweinfurt on Friday afternoon to pay their respects.
It didn’t matter that he was not well-known or that he died in a most-unusual manner — in an armed standoff with police. It just didn’t matter, not for that half-hour.
“We all mourn his loss,” Lt. Col. Steven Miska, commander of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, said at the service. Carmack, he said, “was a soldier who volunteered to serve his nation in a time of war.”
The 30-year-old soldier died March 14 after being shot by German police following a brief standoff involving a former girlfriend. He was armed with an M-4 carbine taken from the post, something the Army is investigating.
“What sense can we make of this tragedy?” said Chaplain (Capt.) Aliner Harris.
After enduring the deadliest deployment to Iraq of any Europe-based unit (59 soldiers killed in action), the brigade lost two more soldiers. One died shortly after he transferred to the States, while the second was found dead in his barracks of unknown causes.
Miska said brigade leaders are asking soldiers to seek balance in their lives and to stay connected and focused. Already, the brigade is getting ready to return to the training field.
At the service, which did not include taps or a gun salute, Miska said that death serves as a reminder of “how fragile life can be.”
And no one appreciates that fragility more than servicemembers and their families.
In a recent telephone conversation, Carmack’s stepmother, Caryn, said people have been too quick to judge her stepson. The ongoing investigations should sort things out, she added.
She described him as a loving man, who cheered for the Cincinnati Bengals and Kentucky Wildcats, had a distinctive laugh and relished raiding the family refrigerator, often stacking together a massive sandwich.
But, above all, she said that Carmack adored his family, especially his little nephew, and held the military in high honor. He had served previously in the Army.
“Jeremiah loved the uniform more than anything,” she said.
At the service, Pvt. Steven Calnan remembered Carmack as a quiet guy who knew the military, liked tequila and could hold his own when it came to computer games.
“Jeremiah was a good man,” Calnan said. “He will be missed.”