Monday, July 09, 2007

Prayers for Airman Schrieken

A hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who discovered this sad story about an Air Force member who was shot and seriously wounded by an anti-military zealot on the 4th of July.

According to various New Jersey outlets, 22-year-old Senior Airman Jonathan Schrieken was shot in the driveway of his home by a gunman, identified as Matthew J. Marren. Authorities say Marren shot Airman Schrieken once in the chest before taking his own life. The incident occurred outside McGuire AFB, where Schrieken serves as a loadmaster for the 6th Airlift Squadron.

Michelle also has links to extended coverage from Little Green Footballs, which has an e-mail from a friend of the Schrieken family, and from MSNBC, which reports on the gunman's "anger" with the government. She also links to Patrick Poole at the American Thinker, who observes that the shooting would have been front-page news--if Schriken had been an abortion provider or a member of the gay community.

Having served in the Air Force for more than 20 years, I know a little bit about loadmasters, and their demanding job. The loadmaster is the aircrew member who's in charge of the "backend" of cargo aircraft like the C-130, C-17 and C-5. They're charged with supervising the loading and off-loading of cargo and passengers, and calculating the load's center-of-gravity, so the aircraft can operate safely. Loadmasters also handle the airdrop of paratroopers and cargo, ensuring that they go "out the door" or "off the ramp" as required.

But those mundane descriptions really don't do the job justice. Imagine yourself in the back of a depressurized C-17, tethered by a safety line, watching tons of pattetized cargo whip past, as carefully rigged parachutes pull them from the cargo bay. One false step, and you're crushed--or out the door with the pallets. Or, working with an aerial port team to quickly unload a C-130 at a forward base in Iraq, aircraft engines running, as mortar rounds drop on the airfield. Or accounting for millions of dollars in equipment, transported non-stop across seven or eight time zones, safely and on-time. Now, imagine doing that job just out of high school, and completing survival school, crew training, and annual check rides just to keep your certification. That should tell you something about the caliber of Senior Airman Schrieken.

In fact, it's a damn shame that Mr. Marren didn't approach Airman Schrieken on the ramp at Kabul or Balad. On combat missions, aircrew members carry sidearms, and they know how to use them. In a fair fight, Airman Schrieken could have easily dispatched the worthless Mr. Marren. But instead, the anti-war nut approached Schrieken in the driveway of his home, and as he returned from leave, knowing that the airman would be unarmed. And knowing that New Jersey laws discourage gun ownership.

Prayers for Airman Schrieken and his family.


Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to the Schrieken family. My son, A1C Michael Clark, was murdered on 13 June 2007 in Las Vegas by a coward (Allen Heusner) with a baseball bat, not a fair fight either. Heusner was a jealous ex that Michael was able fend off after he broke into the house with bat just long enough for the girl to get away, but not long enough to save himself. Michael was a 1N1 working as a sensor operator on the predator at Creech AFB. I myself am a career airman who will be retiring in Jan (I'm a 1N0). I would give anything, anything to have my son back. He spent his whole life traveling as a military brat, and then chose to also serve his country. I'm worried about the justice system even though they caught the guy red handed and there was a witness.

To the Schrieken family, plese except my deepest and most heart felt condolence for your loss. We will keep you in our prayers as we also struggle to breathe each day.

Unknown said...

Sgt Clark--please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your son. It may be a small consolation, but your son's life and career (as a sensor operator) had a lasting impact, far beyond those of many airmen. I have no doubt that lives were saved as a direct result of his efforts. That won't bring your son back, or ease your grief, but you can certainly take pride in his accomplishments as an airman.

Additionally, please keep me informed as this case winds its way through the justice system. IMO, Heusner deserves the death penalty--the crime sounds like it was premeditated, and if I were the D.A., I'd push for muder one. However, there is always the tendency to plea bargain cases, even those involving the worst offenses. If the D.A. in Clark County tries to plea deal the Heusner, please let us know, and we'll generate an outcry in the blogosphere.

Again, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. May God comfort you in this most difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind words Spook86. I think Heusner also deserves to die, but I think lethal injection would be too much a cop-out for him. He sure did not show my son any mercy with the baseball bat. I will keep you posted as the trial process moves forward as I'm a big fan of your webpage, which, I only found about three months ago. Tough times ahead for my family I know, but god willing justice will be served.

jonirae said...

I am one (of the many) of the aunts of Michael Clark and it breaks my heart every day to know what Allen Heusner did to my family and the pain and grief he is putting my little brother through. Michael was an incredible young man, the last time I saw him was as we sat beside the death bed of my mother, his grandmother, and held her hand all night long, with so much compassion and so much love. The world has also suffered a great loss that we have lost a young man of his caliber and the likes of Allen Heusner are still alive. I pray daily for my brother and his wife and their daughter and I pray for the justice that Michael deserves. What a terrible, terrible loss for us all.

Chris Arabia said...

Greetings and condolences.

Does anyone know what happened in the Heusner case?