Tonight our grief collapsed into a singularity, centered on a simple memorial in the center of a drab slab of concrete. A memorial to three fallen brothers; SSG Daniel Scheile, SGT Paul Neubauer, and SGT Michael Sonoda. Although all three men were brave and fearless soldiers it wasn’t their martial skill we came to mourn. Instead we were gathered to remember their bright and noble hearts - and how much better we were for having known them.
I couldn’t hope to create a more moving and beautiful tribute to our fallen then the messages their dearest friends read at the service. I will include the three tributes in their entirety. The first was composed by SPC S, one of SGT Mike Sonoda’s closest friends.
are over 300000 words in the English language, but I can’t find one to best describe
SGT Mike Sonoda. There is nothing I can
say that would make his death more tolerable, or less painful. When Mike died serving his God and country,
but most of all he fought for us… to keep us safe. Every time he went on patrol he went out with
the intent to find IEDs. With the intent
to catch terrorists. So that when the
rest of us went out we would be safe. Mike
loved three things in
SGT Neubauer’s memorial was read by his close friend SGT Che, who he had worked beside day in and day out - for over a year.
SGT Paul Christian Neubauer was a man wearing many hats. He was a soldier, an NCO, a warrior, a gunner, a husband, lover, friend and provider to his wife and friend to many. He was a fighter for freedom of a people that never knew him or ever will. He fought for those he himself did not know, and for very few he did. Paul was a soldier that would do any task placed before him. He was a master of his weapon system, be it an M16 series rifle or any crew served weapon in the platoons inventory. Paul totally believed in this mission and loved going out and performing our assignments. I never heard him complain about any of our tasks. It was always “Roger SGT”. He had an innate ability to interact with our interpreters, always making sure their needs were met. He befriended the interpreters and made sure they integrated into the platoons as one of our own. Just prior to our mission one of the companies interpreters had a series issue, the interpreter needed to be taken to deal with a personal crisis and there was nobody available to take him. Paul knew he had an Op Order in about an hour, however he made sure that the interpreters issue was take care of, putting the interpreters needs before his own. He enjoyed a quiet smoke and a cup of joe. During our time here he went out of his way to establish an AA group. Paul’s legacy is one that will never be forgotten. His name is now etched in the wall with the others that have fallen for the sake of freedom. He has his place at the table with those who have come before us and made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live. He has done what others cannot and will not do.
The final tribute, to SSG Scheile, was written by his close friend CPL Ray.
Scheile. Dan is our friend and brother
in arms. For those of you who did not
know Dan he had a personality that was unique and full of life. His passion and
fire were for his wife and two daughters. I can’t think of a day where he didn’t tell us a story about how proud
he was to be their dad. Dan also spoke
often of his parents. Dan’s civilian
jobs included truck driver, concrete framer, finisher, carpenter, and electrician. You name it he did it. He told me he wanted to get his contractors
license when he gets home so that he could spend more time with his
family. Dan was the platoon’s go to guy,
and we nicknamed him “The Shyster”. A
few months ago Dan and the platoon were watching the movie “Green Berets”. In the movie a character named Peterson was
able to trade, barter or acquire whatever to accomplish the mission. We quickly realized that this character was
based off of Dan. Dan was the man when
it came to living in luxury in the harshest o
If you measure the worth of a man by how much he was loved then our fallen heroes had wealth beyond reckoning. Because we all loved them. And we will always, always keep their memory alive in our hearts.