War widow's tribute to her 'warrior' husband

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The Independent Online

The widow of an army bomb disposal expert killed in Afghanistan urged Britain and its leaders to recognise the sacrifice of soldiers as she buried husband yesterday.

In a powerful tribute, Christina Schmid said the country's "peacemakers" should work as hard as the man she described as her "warrior" had done to preserve life throughout his military career.

The centre of Truro in Cornwall came to standstill as the funeral cortège carrying Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, 30,travelled to the cathedral where he had been a chorister as a boy. As a lone piper played Amazing Grace, a coffin bearing the beret and commando dagger of which S/Sgt Schimd was so proud was carried into the church as his widow walked a few paces behind.

S/Sgt Schmid, of 11 EOD Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, was killed near Sangin on 31 October as as he went to defuse the 65th bomb of his five-month tour in Afghanistan. He had been days away from returning home on leave from Helmand province.

Yesterday, Mrs Schmid, 34, spoke with a clear, passionate voice as she recalled with pride the man she knew simply as "Oz". She said: "In my eyes, my husband was a warrior. Warriors are unique. Our protectors, not destroyers. In past conflicts, where there was an immediate threat to our shores and our existence, soldiers were never plagued with self-doubt about the value of their role in society, and a people and their soldiers were once close in unity. We might disagree with a war. However, I hope through Oz's death and our community display of respect here today can serve to bridge that gap and unite us once more with our troops.

"I hope the work Olaf and others like him undertake on our behalf is not taken for granted any more, or goes unnoticed by our leaders. For Oz has certainly raised the bar.

"From now on I expect our peacemakers to show us they are working as hard as he did to preserve life. I'd like to see them push themselves and serve us like never before. I want to see them tirelessly fight with his same spirit, dedication and integrity day in, day out for peace. For, at present, too many die, too many veterans exist in silence, too many are left with horrific disabilities while the rest of our community proceed with business as usual. Oz's death can never mean 'business as usual' again for our son or me."

In a service packed with mourners, the commanding officer of 2nd Battalion The Rifles, with whom S/Sgt Schmid worked for much of his tour, praised the "bravest and most courageous man" he had ever met.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Thomson said: "Oz was literally a one in a million and one knew it from the moment that loud, delightful, charming and expansive soldier of all soldiers walked into one's office. He saved lives time after time, and for that he will retain a very special place in the heart of every rifleman in our extraordinary battle group."

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