Army soldier from Hawley dies in Baghdadby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
A soldier from Hawley, Minnesota died over the weekend in Iraq. The Department of Defense has confirmed that Sgt. Jason Schumann died when an improved explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Schumann graduated from Hawley High School in 2002.
Moorhead, Minn. — Hawley High School principal Michael Martin remembers Jason Schumann as the kid who always had a smile on his face. His nickname was Tuba, after the band instrument he played through high school. He was the kid who's in the middle of everything, but never got in trouble.
"He was a good kid in class, he was a good kid in the hallways, he was a good kid in co-curriculars," Martin says. "If I ever talked to, it's hard to call him Jason, if I ever talked to Tuba, it simply had to do with what was going on in life, in his life, or issues in general."
Besides playing in band where he got his nickname, Martin says Schumann was the high school mascot during his senior year.
"Everybody liked him. Everybody got a charge out of his sense of humor and the fact that he was always smiling, always happy," Martin says. "He's truly an individual and needs to be honored for the individual he was and for the fact he was over there selflessly serving us."
Martin says news of Schumann's death hit the small school, about 20 miles east of Moorhead, hard. Band Director Keith Wander says Schumann left his mark on faculty and students.
"It's been five years since he graduated, and when I told my band kids yesterday, several of them said 'Tuba?' So they still remember him."
Wander remembers a young man who took his music seriously, but had a great sense of humor. He once made a video for a class assignment in which he played the part of a spy carrying a tuba.
Schumann e-mailed Wander a couple of times from Iraq. In one e-mail he talked about a new role training other soldiers. He also thanked his former band director for teaching him how to be professional and strive for excellence.
"He said he learned all of his knowledge about how to work with the military from his military mentors and gave them a lot of credit," Wander says. "Then he said striving for excellence and professionalism started with his music training. He realized that after he was out of school. He said, 'I didn't realize it at the time, but I do now.'"
Wander says the news of Schumann's death has cast a pall over the end of the school year.
"I was shocked, very depressed yesterday morning to hear that news. It just seems so tragic and sometimes so senseless," he says.
Funeral services for Sargeant Jason Schumann are pending.
- All Things Considered, 05/22/2007, 5:53 p.m.