Community gives final salute to Sgt. Shaina Schmigel

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Paratrooper from Medina recalled for ‘beautiful spirit’

Photos by Tom Rivers – The Honor Guard from the NY National Guard leads Sgt. Shaina Schmigel into a hearse outside the Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel in Batavia.

The Patriot Guard and Hogs and Heroes Foundation provide a presence outside the funeral home during a service for Sgt. Shaina Schmigel.

BATAVIA – Friends and family said good-bye today to Sgt. Shaina Schmigel, a 21-year-old paratrooper from Medina who loved her career in the U.S. Army.


“You are so brave, so courageous,” her brother Matthew Scroger of Lackawanna wrote in a letter read by Navy Chaplain Rev. David Glassmire. “Your beautiful spirit, love and energy will forever take care of us.”

About 200 people filled the Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel in Batavia for Schmigel’s funeral. She died on May 30 in a night-time training accident at Fort Bragg. She took her job seriously as a paratrooper, and continuously was looking to improve herself and her the 82nd Airborne.

“For some people it’s just a paycheck, but it was never a paycheck just to her,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Kuznia who worked in the same unit with Schmigel for 2 ½ years.

She was promoted in January to sergeant after having a rank as a specialist. She often did jobs above her rank, and earned the confidence and respect of the other soldiers, Kuznia said today before the funeral.

“She could get everything done and take charge,” Kuznia said. “She was outstanding. She loved being a paratrooper and a soldier.”

Firefighters and police officers stand at attention outside the funeral home with a giant American Flag held high on Route 5 by the ladder trucks from the town and city of Batavia fire departments.

On Tuesday 240 paratroopers jumped from airplanes as a tribute to Schmigel at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Kuzmia said.

Schmigel was devoted to her family, and loved to entertain them with her “goofy antics” and an “infectious smile,” said Rev. Glassmire, the priest at Ascension Parish in Batavia.

The Rev. David Glassmire, a Navy chaplain and pastor of Ascension Parish in Batavia, stands outside the hearse after leading a service for Sgt. Shaina Schmigel.

Glassmire shared how Schmigel enjoyed country music and NASCAR racing. At a NASCAR race at Watkins Glen, she watched Ryan Newman race for NASCAR when she was in high school. She met Newman after the race and was determined to serve in the Army. However, she wouldn’t serve on the ground. She would jump out of airplanes.

“Thank you for being so brave and serving our country,” her 16-year-old sister Sheniqua Samol of Medina shared in a letter read by the chaplain. “What will I do without you? I will survive, but I will never be the same.”

Outside the funeral home, a crowd gathered along Route 5 and held American flags.

Schmigel’s uncle Mark Schmigel led the group in singing “Amazing Grace.” Two songs were also played by Toby Keith: “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”

Schmigel was escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders and Hogs for Heroes Foundation. She was buried in Evergreen Hill Cemetery in Corfu with full military honors.

A processional of motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders and Hogs and Heroes Foundation led Schmigel and her family to the cemetery in Corfu.