Schmieman, 26, grew up in Richland, Washington, and enlisted after completing an academic program that allows students to earn a college associate’s degree while they finish high school, said his father Eric Schmieman.
“The most common comments his friends made about him were that he helped them, and he inspired them to live life to the fullest,” Eric Schmieman told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “He certainly did that himself.”
He said his son served in a reconnaissance unit before joining the elite Raider command stationed at Camp Lejeune about two years ago
The Rev. Corey Smith of Richland Lutheran Church, who was Dietrich Schmieman’s youth pastor from sixth grade until he enlisted, said the young man joined the Marines out of a desire to serve others.
“That’s the kind of heart he had,” he said in a phone interview. “He loved to help people.”