Pentagon confirms Marine's death

LOYAL, Wis. - The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that a Loyal area resident was one of two Marines killed in combat operations this week in Iraq's Al Anbar province.

Cpl. Joshua Schmitz, 21, a graduate of Loyal High School, and Lance Cpl. William Koprince Jr., 24, of Lenoir City, Tenn., died while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, the Department of Defense said.

Schmitz died Tuesday and Koprince died on Wednesday.

Flags were displayed Thursday on light posts along Main Street in Loyal in honor of Schmitz, said Mayor Randy Anderson.

He said the flag at City Hall would continue to be flown at half-staff to mark the deaths of Schmitz and former President Gerald Ford.

Schmitz's aunt, Debra May of Wausau, said she last saw her nephew in July at his going-away party.

"I got to hug him and tell him I loved him," she said.

She said he had planned to attend college and possibly start his own business after completing his enlistment next September.

May said she grieved for all the Marines in her nephew's unit who have died.

She wrote a tribute to her nephew, stating how difficult it is to console his mother.

"Josh, we love you and we will miss you dearly," she wrote. "Love you forever, Aunt Debbie."

Schmitz was one of three Wisconsin military personnel who died within nine days in Iraq.

U.S. Army Pvt. Evan Bixler, 21, of Racine was killed Sunday in Hit, Iraq.

Marine Capt. Kevin M. Kryst, 27, of West Bend, was killed Dec. 18 in Al Anbar province. His funeral Mass was scheduled Friday in West Bend.

Sixty-six Wisconsin residents have been killed in the Iraq war.

Information from: Marshfield News-Herald,

A service of the Associated Press(AP)