RICHLAND — A quiet fell over the room as a group of Dietrich Schmieman’s fellow Marines stood in a line facing their commanding officer.
The crowd hushed in silence as the roll call started. Each of the Marines answered — until Schmieman’s name was called.
“Sgt. Schmieman,” the call started. “Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman! Sgt. Dietrich Aaron Schmieman!”
As a 21-gun salute boomed outside, sobs broke out among the 200 people gathered Saturday at Central Church in Richland.
Schmieman, a member of Special Operations Command, died with 14 other Marines and a Navy sailor when their KC-130 cargo plane crashed in a Mississippi soybean field as it was heading to Yuma, Ariz.
The memorial service was the final opportunity for the public to say goodbye to a friend, a brother and a member of the community.
He was seen off by a parade of American Legion riders holding a line of flags, friends from his church and school, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis — a retired Marine general.
Chris Lynch, a lifelong friend of Schmieman, described him as an extraordinary person, who put his family and friends first.
“As a young man, Dietrich was a fiercely independent person, who wanted to go his own way,” he said. “Whatever his own thing was, he always did his best job.”
Lynch met his friend when they were students at Christ the King School. They lived near each other and shared a love of skiing.
Schmieman’s ashes will be spread on Mount Rainier.