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Sertoma Club honors families of fallen soldiers with award

SPICER -- Two fallen soldiers from Willmar were remembered Thursday when the Willmar Sertoma Club honored their families with the 2008 Service to Mankind Award.

The families of Army Sgts. Joshua Schmit and Kyle Miller, both of Willmar, were presented the award at Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer.

"This year is special because this is the first year (the Service to Mankind Award) is going to two individuals' families," said Bryan Thiery, the 2008 president of the Sertoma Club.

Schmit was killed April 14, 2007, in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded under his Humvee.

"I just think it's nice that people are still remembering and still acknowledging what he has done for us all," said Schmit's grandmother, Jan Hazen.

"We all knew Josh was a hero before he was in Iraq," Kim added. "He was our hero before then."

Miller was killed June 29, 2006, by a roadside bomb that exploded near his convoy.

Letters from Miller's platoon members, read by Thiery during the banquet, indicated that Kyle believed his job helped save lives. He installed electronic equipment that warned convoys of roadside bombs. His mother, Kathy, said her son was a prankster, yet he had a way of making people feel special.

"He always had that type of personality that made people smile," she said. "... Whenever I meet someone that has met my son, I always ask them 'did he make you smile?' I have not received one 'no' in all this time."

Both mother continued to tell stories to Sertoma Club member's following the banquet.

"The boys would have appreciated this since they'd be celebrating birthday's soon," Kim said.

Miller would have turned 22 on Oct. 15; Schmit would have turned 28 on Tuesday.