Remembering SFC Schuyler.
My wife and I have spent the past week grappling with where to start when talking about SFC Schuyler Bontecou Haynes. Schuyler was a decendant of one of the first generals in the US Continental Army, Philip Schuyler and has been laid to rest in the same cemetary in Albany, NY. Schuyler always wanted to be a soldier from the time he was little, playing with his toy soldiers to yelling at his sister during a snowball fight to hold the fort and scolding her for leaving the team even though another boy just cracked a piece of ice across her nose breaking it. It was always in his blood.
Schuyler respected his parents wishes and went to college first though and graduated as a history major from Trinity College. Afterward, instead of enlisting into a ROTC program or joining as an officer, Schuyler wanted to enlist and be a part of the infantry. He felt there needed to be someone with intelligence on the battlefield to lead the soldiers. He wanted to work his way up from the bottom.
This was a kid from a very affluent family that chose to work and walk with the true nuts and bolts of our military.
Schuyler served in Desert Storm, Kosovo, Panama, and was on his second tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom when he was killed by an IED with four other soldiers and a translator on Highway Detroit in Baquba.
Schuyler did alot in his 17 years in the Army. He went to jump school, went to ranger school twice but was injured, and ultimatlely finished as a SFC in the 1st Cav, 3rd Brigade, 1-12 Scouts. They were the eyes an ears for the commanders in the rear. This is always where Schuyler wanted to be. He always wanted to be where the action was because he truly beleived he could make a difference by being there. many of time he spoke of his problem children, soldiers who probably shouldn't have been there, but he wanted to make sure they were always taken care of.
In fact, when Schuyler signed up for his second tour of Iraq, most of his platoon was scheduled to go home. When they heard he signed up to go back, every single member signed up to go back with him. This was the respect of the leadership he provided for his fellow soldiers. Schuyler was a very decorated hero as well, with two bronze stars with one with a "V" for Valor. amongst a laundry list of other awards. Schuyler was a very tough leader as well who always pushed his soldiers to a higher standard. One story told by his fellow soldiers is that when the Scouts and Mortars had to defend a city against the Navy SEALS for a training exercise, the Seals never succeeded in taking his town.
For many years, I always asked Schuyler why he chose this way of life, and I also asked him when he was home for the last time if he beleived in the mission in Iraq. He said he truly did, and that's why he signed up to go back to help. When Schuyler was killed, a group of soldiers from the 1st CAV in FT. Hood, Texas came to the funeral. After spending a few days with these great supportive individuals, I asked them to join my wife, Schuyler's sister Sophy, and I for dinner.
It was truly one of the best meals we ever had, and while the food was great, the four hours of stories these fellow soldiers of Schuyler's shared with his sister, truly made me understand why he chose to spend his life with such great individuals. These gentlemen, these soldiers, these great selfless individuals, truly made me understand why they are referred to as America's First Team. My only regret is that I couldn't go back with them to help finish the job, Schuyler and the rest of the group have started.
To date, we have stayed in touch with the 1-12 Scouts and send them everything we possibly can to make their stay as comfortable as possible. My wife and I pray for the day that the mission is truly accomplished and our troops are back home safe.
In the interim, we hold everyone in our prayers, and it was Sgt Kevin Zimmerman, who was headed back to Iraq to join Schuyler's group that told us about Herobracelets.org. We ordered bracelets in memory of Schuyler and where them with pride and appreciation of every soldier serving our country.
There is so much more to tell about Schuyler but I know he would want me to include the 40 years of friends and fellow heros he grew up and served with. There are many, and I have had the honor to meet a few. My wife and I only hope to see them again, and hear more of the wonderful history they shared with Schuy.
In the interim...Semper Peratus!!!
Thomas A. Pallozzi-Haynes and Sophy T. Hay