NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The memories of the battles he fought in Iraq came home, to Fairview, with Corporal Gregory Schneider.
It was the long, confidential conversations he had with his father that helped Schneider rise above the darkness that overwhelmed him after his return from battle in Iraq.
Schneider died at home on Memorial Day in 2010. He was killed in a motorcycle accident that happened when he tried to get onto I-75 Central Expressway at Haskell, in Dallas. Just one day before the crash the Schneider family had gotten together for lunch, to recognize Memorial Day.
Now two years later, before today’s memorial service at DFW National Cemetery in Dallas, Schneider’s parents visited his grave and talked to CBS 11 News about their son’s accomplishments and challenges trying to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“He just wanted someone to say ‘they were awful things that you had to do, that you saw that were done, but it’s okay,’” Schneider’s mother, Debbie, said of her son’s hopes.
Dan and Debbie Schneider said it took months before their son would talk about his experiences during his one-year tour of duty in Iraq, which ended in March of 2005.
Dan Schneider said he had already studied up on PTSD and knew immediately that his son had the disorder.
“Greg eliminated five Iraqi’s that were on their way out, that were laying in ambush to get them,” he said.
Dan said it took months of careful and confidential conversations for him to learn about some of what his son went through in Iraq.
Mr. Schneider said, “Just dealing with what he had seen over there. The fact that he had seen friends die, the fact that he had to kill people,” laid heavy on his son’s mind.
“We’ve had several of his former Marine buddies call us and say, ‘I would not be here, if it wasn’t for your son.’”
Gregory Schneider graduated from Allen High School and naturally his family as elated when he came home from the war.
Since his death Debbie Schneider has spent countless hours at the U.S.O. office at DFW Airport, supporting other families and service people coming home and leaving for duty.
“He was angry,” Debbie Schneider said about her son’s return from war. “He didn’t know why. He would just be normal one moment and you could say a keyword, and you never knew what that was going to be, and it would just set him off.”
In the last months before his death, Dan Schneider says his son was coming out of the extreme darkness that taken over his life. Mr. Schneider credits the discussions he and friends had with helping Gregory’s progress.
“He started recovering mentally at that point and that was that one time in my life I got being a dad right. Perfectly.”