Michael Schafer
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Michael Schafer who was born in Illinois on August 16, 1979 and passed away on July 25, 2005 at the age of 25. We will remember him forever.

Michael is survived by his wife, Danielle; a son, Devin, Fredericksburg, Va.; his mother and step-father, Karen and Daniel Barr, Spring Hill, FL; his father, Mark Schafer, Virginia; two brothers, Timothy Barr, Spring Hill, and Mark Schafer, Williamsburg; a sister, Sarah Schafer, Williamsburg; his maternal grandfather, Ronald Forbes, Spring Hill; his paternal grandparents, Ed and Toni Schafer, Crown Point, Ind.; Standish and Loretta Barr, Spring Hill; his maternal great-grandmother, Inez Rose, Hobart, Ind.; his paternal great-grandfather, Howard Barr, Crown Point; and many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

Michael was born August 16, 1979, in Waukegan, Illinois.  He moved to Spring Hill, Florida, from Crown Point, Indiana, when he was in the fifth grade. 

Michael played Little League at Deltona Park.  He liked the scariest rides.  He sat with the cool kids in the back of the bus in middle school.

He won the Iron Man trophy playing eighth-grade football for coach Bill Vonada. The trophy's still in the attic at his parents' home here.

Basketball was his favorite sport, and Michael Jordan was his favorite player. He had posters of him all over the wall in his room and even a life-size cardboard cutout in the corner. He once told his mom he was going to name his first child Michael Jordan: Michael Jordan Schafer. In driveway pickup games, his best move was straight to the hoop: full speed, straight ahead. When he played for the school, he dived for loose balls and cheered the loudest from the bench. 

As a senior at Springstead High School, he had off campus lunch, and he and his friends would eat at Taco Bell or Subway on the corner of Mariner and Spring Hill.  "He wasn't popular because he was flashy," Coach Vonada said. "He was popular because he was genuine."

Once, at the corner of Mariner and Linden, he got into a bad car wreck in his two-door Ford Escort. He had to be taken away in a Bayflite helicopter. He got baptized after that at Spring Hill Baptist Church.  God was looking after him, everybody said.

He graduated from Springstead in 1998. He worked as a lifeguard at Weeki Wachee's Buccaneer Bay and then the Innsbrook resort in Palm Harbor.

He enlisted in the Army in January of 1999 at the storefront recruiting office behind the Applebee's near the junction of State Road 50 and U.S. 41.

He did basic training and Airborne school in Fort Benning, Georgia, then was in the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, N.C. He reupped after his first three-year tour.  He was currently serving with Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy.  He would have gotten out in January 2007.

He was married on December 30, 2000 to the former Danielle Daye - their honeymoon was in a hotel room on Clearwater Beach. He had to be in Kosovo within the week.

One day in Kosovo, one of his fellow soldiers on the peacekeeping mission dared him to eat a grub for five bucks. Mike ate two.

He was one of the first paratroopers to jump into Kirkuk, Iraq, in March 2003. He helped secure a landing strip. He did nine months there and was awarded the Bronze Star.  While serving in Iraq, two of his good friends were killed.  One friend was killed when Mike, who was given the chance to come home for two weeks, turned it down so his friend could go home instead and meet his newborn child.  After getting on a bus to take leave, his friend was killed, leaving Mike crushed.  Before being deployed to Afghanistan, Mike went to see his friend's parents.
He got a tattoo on his leg. It had a cross, a star and dog tags that were red, white and blue. "My Fallen Brothers," it said.

The last time Mike was home was Christmas 2004.

Mike talked about being a paramedic, a police officer, a firefighter - maybe even a Secret Service agent - but he went back to his home base in Vicenza, Italy, in January, then left for Afghanistan in April. He was to be there for a year. He had time off scheduled for October.

He was a member of a quick-response unit dispatched to help fellow soldiers under fire.  He was killed around 6:00 a.m. Afghanistan time Monday, July 25, 2005. He was on a patrol near Kandahar, in a town called Oruzgan when he was shot once. He was up front as a squad leader. He told his squad to run, which is when he was shot again.

Staff Sergeant Michael W, Schafer, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, is the first soldier from Hernando County to be killed in current combat in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Michael Wayne Schafer would have turned 26 next month.

Tributes and Condolences
Graphic Art Tribute to Michael   / Michael Acevedo (Fellow Soldier )
Under Michael's photo is the Afghanistan campaign medal, the Purple Heart flanked by the Kosovo and Iraqi campaign medals. A tribute to a fine American fighting man who went forth into the field of battle, engaged the enemy and gave all.  Semp...  Continue >>
Six Years   / Papa &. Debbie
Cannot believe that six years have passed.  You are always on our minds and in our hearts and we are so very thankful for having the time we did have with you...when someone you love becomes a memory the memory becomes a treasure.  You are ...  Continue >>
6 Years   / Mark Schafer (Father)
Hey there son. Well it's coming up on your 6 year anniversary and it is still hard to believe that all of this happened. I still feel one day you are going to walk through my front door. I love and miss you son. One day we will meet again. Love alway...  Continue >>
My Hero   / Abby (Cousin)
Hey Mike!

It will be 6 years on Monday. 6 years when they took you out of our lives. I along with the whole family will never forgive them for taking you. I know God wanted you up there but we needed you down here. I want to say tha...  Continue >>
Remembering You   / Papa &. Debbie
While it has been 3 years, time does not matter.....you are still loved, you are still missed.  We still wait for that door to open and see your smiling face as it barrels through, erupting the silence that we've become accustomed to.  Your...  Continue >>
Listing of All U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan During Operation Enduring Freedom  / Debbie     Read >>
Basic Training  / J. S. (Friend)    Read >>
Comfort and Good News  / Karen Cook (PASSERBY)    Read >>
I won't forget your sacrifice.  / Mitch Kiehne (On his last mission. )    Read >>
Love / Suzanne (Cousin)    Read >>
MISSING YOU  / Mark Schafer (Father)    Read >>
Still Miss You  / Lori Schafer-Burke (Aunt)    Read >>
ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY - 5/30/2009  / Papa &. Debbie     Read >>
Remembering Our Veterans  / Papa &. Debbie     Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
His legacy
Sending a Message of Sacrifice (News Article in Hernando Today 8/31/06)  
Sending a message of sacrifice
By TONY MARRERO lmarrero@hernandotoday.com
Published: Aug 30, 2006

SPRING HILL — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Schafer loved being the center of attention.   But this time, family members said, he would have wanted to share the honor.

“I know in my heart that Mike would say, ‘Even though my name is on the building, this is for all the troops, veterans and fallen brothers,’” Daniel Barr, Schafer’s stepfather, told a group gathered at the Spring Hill Post Office’s main branch Wednesday.

Schafer’s family, friends and well-wishers gathered as officials dedicated the building in honor of Schafer, who was killed July 25, 2005 while serving in Afghanistan.

The Springstead High School graduate was 25 years old when he died.

A light rain from Tropical Storm Ernesto forced the event inside to the facility’s vast sorting room, where post office employees in bright red shirts paused to watch the ceremony.

Schafer made “the ultimate sacrifice for his country,” said Michael Jordan, manager of the United States Postal Service’s Suncoast District. “I’m very proud this facility will be renamed in a historic tribute to Michael.”

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, sponsored legislation last year to have the post office at 8501 Philatelic Drive named after Schafer.

“In times when children and families in America need role models to look up to and to emulate, Sgt. Schafer was a true American hero,” Brown-Waite said. “I can only hope that as family and friends can gain some solace knowing that his brave actions fighting for freedom will be immortalized.”

“Dedicating this federal building in remembering (Schafer’s) history and his story,” said James Bradley, president of the Florida Chapter of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Association. “Because of his sacrifices, there are fewer terrorists to threaten Americans today.”

“To Michael, we say rest easy in the knowledge that you made a difference, not just to one person but to the whole nation.”

The family helped pull off a black cloth covering the plaque that will hang in the post office lobby: “This building is named in honor of Sgt. Michael Schafer by an act of Congress, Public Law 109-194, March 20, 2006.”

Born in Illinois, Schafer grew up in Spring Hill not far from the main post office branch. He played Little League baseball at Delta Woods Park on Deltona Boulevard.

Schafer graduated from Springstead in 1998, enlisted in 1999 and worked his way up to team leader for the Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion 503rd Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

He was one of the first paratroopers to parachute in to Kirkuk, Iraq in 2003.

“He wanted to do something for his country,” Schafer’s wife, Danielle, said after the ceremony. “He wanted to be a part of something bigger than he was. Once he became part of a unit, the brotherhood and the camaraderie kept him there.”

After his service in Iraq ended, Schafer volunteered for his tour in Afghanistan, despite pleas from Danielle to stay home, she recalled.

The family last saw Schafer alive at Christmas 2004. He would have been discharged in January 2007.

“He felt like he needed to go, and this was going to be his last deployment and we were going to be a real family this time,” Danielle said. “God had other plans.”

On the day Schafer was killed, he was leading his team on patrol in Oruzgan, Afghanistan.

He was shot once, then yelled to his squad to run when he was shot a second time, according to Army officials. The Army posthumously awarded Schafer the Silver Star, with a commendation that said he “saved the lives of at least two of his own soldiers at the sacrifice of his own life.”

He was the first Hernando County soldier to die in the line of duty since the war on terrorism began.

After the ceremony, Schafer’s family members and friends gathered to watch a video montage of photographs put together by Kevin Hart, a clerk at the branch.

“That’s Daddy!” exclaimed the Schafers’ 4-year-old son, Devin, as photos of Schafer faded in and out.

There was Mike the soldier: in fatigues with fellow soldiers in a desert in Iraq; posing with his unit, machine gun under his arm, against a mountainous backdrop in Afghanistan.

And there was Mike the son, husband, father and thrill seeker: holding his bride on their wedding day; clutching Devin on his lap; straddling his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Knowing the building would be dedicated in her husband’s honor has made the grieving process a little less difficult, Danielle said.

“It’s a way to concrete him into history,” she said. “He won’t be a statistic.”
The branch’s employees presented Schafer’s family with a poster featuring Schafer in his beret and uniform against a backdrop of the American flag that will hang in the lobby next to the plaque. Each employee had signed the back.

The branch workers felt compelled to help honor a hero, said Gail Esposito, a rural carrier.

“It kind of brought us all together,” Esposito said.

“I think it’s really great they’re not waiting fifty or a hundred years to do something for these guys,” said John Foley, a Marine Corps veteran of World War II and resident of Spring Hill who didn’t know Schafer but attended to pay his respects. “It’s good for morale, and it’s good for the family.”

George Brnilovich didn’t know Schafer, either, but made the drive from Jacksonville after seeing a notice about the ceremony in an Army newsletter. He served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, same as Schafer, but during the Vietnam War.

“Just to honor one of my comrades,” Brnilovich said. “It’s a pretty close-knit unit.”

Schafer’s parents still live in Spring Hill. The main branch is not the nearest to their home, said his mother, Karen Barr.

“But we’ll probably start coming to this one,” she said. “And I’ll probably start crying every time I come in and see that poster.”

She praised the postal service employees for their part in the ceremony.

“They went over and above,” Barr said. “It turned out to be a wonderful day.”
Fallen Soldier is Honored (News Article in Hernando Times on 8/31/06)  
The action ensures Spring Hill will remember Staff Sgt. Michael Wayne Schafer, who was killed in July 2005.
By BETH N. GRAY, Times Staff Writer
Published August 31, 2006

SPRING HILL - With more than 100 family, friends and admirers looking on, Staff Sgt. Michael Wayne Schafer was honored and immortalized during an emotional ceremony in his hometown Wednesday.

Schafer, a 25-year-old enlistee with the 173rd Airborne Division, was shot twice and died as he directed his squad during a firefight near Kandahar, Afghanistan, on July 25, 2005.

Now, thanks to an act of Congress, the 1998 Springstead High School graduate will never be forgotten in Hernando County.

The Spring Hill Post Office has been renamed the Staff Sgt. Michael Wayne Schafer Building. A plaque marking the new name and a dedication were unveiled Wednesday and will hang in the lobby.

The U.S. Postal Service hand imprinted the day's local mail with a special postmark, "Staff Sergeant Michael Wayne Schafer Dedication Station, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006, Spring Hill, FL 34606-4300."

Schafer's widow, Danielle Schafer, who married him on Dec. 30, 2000, said after the ceremony: "It's a great honor that he'll always be remembered. Years from now, people will remember."

Added U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, who sponsored the congressional act, "It's a federal building and it's appropriate so we can always remember Michael's contribution to the global war on terror."

Brown-Waite and others lauded Schafer as a hometown hero, saying his spirit was embodied in his courageous leadership. "And his action will be immortalized," she said.

In sports and in the military, Schafer was a team player who always looked out for others, said his stepfather, Daniel Barr.

Even after watching two friends die in Iraq, Schafer "took the challenge again," signing up for a tour in Afghanistan, said James Bradley, who is retired from the 173rd Airborne.

"Because of his action there are fewer terrorists today," Bradley said.

Barr and Bradley said Schafer never would have wanted the honor of a building named in his memory; he would have credited others. But "the dedication of a federal building is critical to preserving his memory," Bradley added.

Brooksville postmaster Michael P. Jordan said the ceremony and dedication was to "pay respect to Schafer's memory, a lasting tribute."

He noted the military and Postal Service are intimately connected, with 212,000 veterans nationwide employed in the agency and 13,000 postal workers serving in the military reserves.

Schafer's mother, Karen Barr, wept quietly throughout the ceremony. She was comforted by Schafer's stepbrother, Tim Barr, 19.

Workers at the post office also presented Danielle Schafer with a bouquet of red roses.

Aug 28, 2006

Post office to be dedicated to fallen soldier Wednesday

The main branch of the Spring Hill Post Office will soon bear the name of one of Hernando County’s fallen soldiers. 

A ceremony to rename the post office at 8501 Philatelic Drive after Staff Sgt. Michael Schafer is slated for Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

The event will be held indoors but will be postponed if tropical storm Ernesto creates unsafe conditions, said Gary Sawtelle, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.

U.S Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, who sponsored the bill to rename the post office, will speak at the ceremony. A plaque will be placed in the lobby signifying the renaming of the facility as the Staff Sergeant Michael Wayne Schafer building.

Schafer, a 1998 Springstead High graduate, was killed July 25, 2005 while leading his team on patrol in Oruzgan, Afghanistan. He was a 25-year-old team leader for the Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion 503rd Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the first Hernando County soldier to die in the line of duty since the war on terrorism began.

Schafer was shot once, then yelled to his squad to run when he was shot a second time, according to Army officials. The Army posthumously awarded Schafer the Silver Star, with a commendation that said he “saved the lives of at least two of his own soldiers at the sacrifice of his own life.”

Post Office to be Renamed After Fallen Local Soldier  

Mar 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, announced Friday that the post office in Spring Hill will be renamed in honor of Staff Sgt. Michael Schafer, the Spring Hill man who was killed by enemy fire last July 25 in Oruzgan, Afghanistan. The Springstead High School graduate was a member of the U.S. Army since 1999.

The U.S. post Office, located at 8501 Philatelic Drive in Spring Hill, will be renamed the Staff Sergeant Michael Schafer Post Office Building.

The new designation was created after Senate passage of House Bill 3703 and now the legislation goes to President Bush for his signature before it becomes public law.

Brown-Waite praised the bill’s passage and commented on the occasion: “Communities throughout Florida look for role models and true heroes for their children to emulate and admire,” she said. “Michael Schafer was a brave American who gave his life for our freedoms and liberties.

A good friend, a good husband and family man, Sgt. Schafer embodied the best attributes of our soldiers in uniform. I am so proud that Congress has honored a true American soldier by recognizing his commitment and sacrifice with this post office renaming today.”

Thinking of Him Still Hurts  
Published January 1, 2006
"M2 PRESSWIRE-JULY 27, 2005-US DOD: DoD identifies Army casualty ...

"The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Staff Sgt. Michael W. Schafer, 25, of Spring Hill, Fla., died July 25 in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, when he was shot by enemy forces while on a quick reaction force mission. Schafer was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Vicenza, Italy.

"For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs ..."

That's what it said.

That's all it said.

Here's what it didn't say:

Michael Wayne Schafer weighed 6 pounds when he was born Aug. 16, 1979, in Waukegan, Ill.

He loved his mother's banana pudding.

He worked as a busboy at Guido's Pizza Cafe on Forest Oaks Boulevard. It was his first job. The waitresses loved him.

He got into a bad car wreck in high school in his two-door Ford Escort and had to be flown to Tampa. He got baptized after that at Spring Hill Baptist Church. Everybody said God was looking after him.

The first time he went out on a date with Danielle Daye, he dropped her off in his blue-green Dodge Shadow, walked her to her door and kissed her good night, and she walked inside and said to herself: "I'm going to marry him. He's going to be my husband."

He proposed to her on the sand in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in March 2000. They were married Dec. 30 of that year at Forest Oaks Lutheran Church in Spring Hill.

He left for Kosovo a week later.

They were going to live in Virginia.

They were going to have kids.

They were going to take a vacation, probably a cruise, just the two of them, as soon as he got back from Afghanistan.

They were adopting her sister's son when he was killed. The process has been finalized. Devin Daye-Schafer is 3 and lives in Virginia and sometimes asks Danielle when he'll be able to see Mike again.

Schafer wrote his mother a poem after he joined the Army. It ended like this: "I'll be back home before you know it."

He re-upped after his first three-year tour.

He was one of the first paratroopers to jump into Kirkuk, Iraq, in March 2003. Later that year, near Samarra, two of his best friends were killed by a roadside bomb. Schafer was killed in another country, in a different way, in a different year.

The weekend before, in a call home, he and his stepfather had started planning a fishing trip for his R&R in October. He was supposed to come home from Afghanistan in March 2006. He was supposed to get out of the Army in January 2007.

He is one of more than 900 American soldiers who were killed in 2005.

He is one of the close to 2,500 overall since the start of the wars.

He is the first from Hernando County. He is still the only one.

He gave blood regularly at the local blood bank on State Road 50.

He was a letter writer and a card sender.

The casket was closed at his wake.

According to the Christian Science Monitor in Boston, in a story by an embedded reporter that ran Oct. 31, this is how he was killed:

Spc. Christopher Velez, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who is in the lead squad, says he senses something is wrong. Normally, children come up to American soldiers, asking for candy or pens. Here, there is nobody. Even the roosters are silent.

The village follows the shape of the valley: narrow at one end, and then opening up, with houses along the outskirts. The men begin to search each of those houses, north to south. Specialist Velez's team searches houses. Sergeant Hormann and his men line up shoulder to shoulder and search the orchard.

The Taliban are there. "We are close enough that we could hear their movements," says Hormann. "We could see the hand of some guy reaching for his weapon." ...

On the eastern edge of the orchard, Velez prepares to cross an open field toward a pair of mud-walled homes about 50 feet away. But as soon as he steps on the grass, he hears Kalashnikov fire aimed at him. He ducks back into the orchard, while other team members move into position, and Afghan National Army soldiers fire at the rooftops of the closest housing compound.

No one knows which home the gunfire is coming from. So O'Neal's men prepare to move in on the house to the left, while Sgt. Michael Schafer of Spring Hill, Fla., and the 2nd squad prepare to assault the house on the right.

What happens next unfolds quickly. "I hear fire, and somebody calls for a medic," says Velez. Sergeant Schafer kicks down the front door, steps inside, and gunfire erupts. Schafer is hit, but doesn't die instantly. He pushes his team leader, Sgt. Brian Hooper, back out the door, before falling to the floor.

O'Neal's squad rushes over. "Where's Sergeant Schafer? What's been cleared?" he demands. Sgt. Hooper is in shock. "When I see Hooper, I get scared. He's completely out of it," says O'Neal.

Finally, O'Neal peers inside the doorway at an angle, and sees Schafer slumped against the wall. He reaches for an automatic weapon, an M-249, and steps a bit closer to peer inside. The room is shrouded in darkness. He tries to turn on his tactical light on his helmet, but it doesn't work. There are no Taliban fighters in sight, but they are there.

"I'm not thinking very clearly," O'Neal admits later. "I just want to try to pull Schafer out with one hard pull."

Finally, after three attempts and several injuries, O'Neal tosses smoke grenades into the room while three soldiers pull Schafer's body out. The men toss standard grenades into the room to kill the Taliban inside. ...

More of his legacy...
Michael's Photo Album
Mike as a Newborn - 8-16-79
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