Wiesbaden soldier remembered for positive impact on unit
WIESBADEN, Germany — When Spc. Matthew E. Schneider, from Nashua, N.H., reported to Company A, 141st Signal Battalion, in October 2004, an argument broke out.
Schneider was new to the Army, but he’d already earned a reputation as a whiz kid after graduating at the top of his class at the Army’s signal school at Fort Gordon, Ga. Every leader in the Wiesbaden-based unit wanted him on his team and lobbied hard to get him.
He ended up on the small extension node team.
“He was probably the most intelligent soldier — technically proficient soldier — in our section,” said Sgt. Daniel Schauer.
Schneider’s knack for handling computers made him the first stop for anyone with a problem. That, coupled with his eagerness to learn everything he could from those around him, brought him in contact with every person in the company.
“He has impacted everyone in the company positively. Everyone,” said Capt. Cason Green.
So when Schneider, 23, died Aug. 28 in Ramadi, Iraq, of a heart attack, the whole unit felt the loss.
During a memorial ceremony in Iraq on Aug. 31, Green told of how the young soldier often ran in the afternoon after his eight-hour shift was over.
“I remember seeing Schneider early in the afternoon the day he died. I asked if he was going to run,” Green said. Schneider told him, “Of course.”
“I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I would ever talk to him,” Green said.
Hours later, two of Schneider’s co-workers found him unresponsive in his bed.
“These two soldiers were present with Specialist Schneider in his last moments and had the difficult challenge of trying to revive their friend,” Lt. Col. Carlos L. Walker Jr., commander of the 141st, said at a memorial ceremony Thursday in Wiesbaden. He said the two soldiers are having a difficult time dealing with their friend’s death.
During the deployment, Schneider boosted the morale of the unit by setting up his own Internet service to help troops stay in touch with their families. It was dubbed “Schneidernet,” Green said.
He and another soldier pooled their money to buy a satellite-based Internet system. Schneider was the one who knew what to get, how to set it up and how to keep it running.
His friends and colleagues said he was always doing things like that to make life better for other people.
At Thursday’s memorial ceremony in Wiesbaden, Spc. Tania Abanatha recalled her first encounters with Schneider, who she said always made her feel welcome.
The two met when they attended a driving class together. Abanatha was shy and didn’t know many people yet.
“He sat behind me and he used to pick on me, and he didn’t even know who I was,” Abanatha said.
Their friendship grew from there.
“He knew exactly what he wanted out of life, and he knew that everything he did for everybody else was to make sure everybody had a good life ahead of them,” she said.