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Joseph L. Schiro

The only movement while the body of Army Warrant Officer Joseph L. Schiro was driven down Perimeter Road after landing at the airport was the hundreds of right hands that were quickly pulled to the foreheads of the Florida Army National Guard members standing on either side of the road.

The 27-year-old Coral Springs man died Oct. 6 in Chak district, Wardak province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds he received while on dismounted patrol, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.

Staff Sgt. Justin C. Marquez, 25, of Aberdeen, N.C., also was killed.

Both men were assigned to the 1st Special Forces Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Fort Bragg, N.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Schiro leaves a wife and three children. Diana Schiro's family lives in Wellington. The Green Beret's body was flown into the Signature hangar at the Palm Beach International Airport Sunday afternoon.

A graduate of Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Schiro enlisted in the Army in June 2004 as an airborne infantryman.

He attended the Special Forces Warrant Office Technical and Tactical certification course after serving on three deployments in Afghanistan. He graduated in May, according to CBS Miami.

Schiro was the recipient of two Bronze Stars, two Army commendation medals, two Army achievement medals, the Afghanistan campaign medal with three campaign stars and the Iraq Campaign medal with two campaign stars, the station reported.

"He was a hero," said 1st Lt. Chad Copeland of the Florida Army National Guard. "We're here to say thank you to his family for his sacrifice for the nation."

The plane carrying Schiro's body landed around 12:50 p.m. His family declined to comment.

At 1:19 p.m. more than 100 soldiers of the 1218th Transportation Company stood about 7 feet from one another with their feet apart and hands behind their back.

Three minutes later the soldiers pulled their feet together and forcefully moved their arms to their sides. Their right hand went to their forehead in a salute four minutes after that as a Palms West Funeral Home hearse slowly drove by.

The only sound to be heard was the 25 mph gust of wind.

Copeland, who has been a soldier in the Army for more than 20 years, said these types of occasions never get any easier.

"You remember all the ones that you saw before this," he said. "And you know there's going to be more."

Schiro will be laid to rest Monday at the South Florida National Cemetery.

A representative from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., said on her Twitter feed that the church planned to preach outside the soldier's memorial service, portraying his death as a sign of God's wrath against America. Westboro's statement said it would maintain "respectful, lawful proximity" at a service at Christ Fellowship Church in Royal Palm Beach Monday afternoon at 1:15.

Travis O'Neal, discipleship pastor at Christ Fellowship's Palm Beach Gardens campus, said he did not wish to comment on Westboro's statement. He said he understood Schiro's family attended the Royal Palm Beach campus and the focus would be on honoring his memory and the family's needs.

Published in The Palm Beach Post from Oct. 15 to Nov. 14, 2012
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