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Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Daniel Scheile, 37, Antioch; Killed in Bombing

October 02, 2005|Sandy Banks | Times Staff Writer

Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Daniel Ronald Scheile was not one to flinch in the face of danger.

So when the soldier's plaintive e-mail from Iraq reached his sister last month, it was a red flag for a family accustomed to his jokes and bluster.

"He said, 'It's really bad here.... I need to talk to somebody,' " recalled his younger sister, Trina Scheile. "They were under fire, there was constant bombing.... Danny never wanted to burden us with anything, so for him to reach out like that, I knew it must be horrible."

Several hours after he sent that message, the armored Humvee carrying the 37-year-old soldier was hit by a roadside bomb Sept. 23 as his unit patrolled a street in southeast Baghdad. Another guardsman in his squad was killed instantly. Scheile was wounded and died the next day. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in Oakdale, Calif.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 06, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 60 words Type of Material: Correction
Scheile obituary -- The obituary in Sunday's California section of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Daniel R. Scheile, who was killed last month in Iraq, incorrectly said his deployment had been extended twice. Military officials said that although Scheile's scheduled home leaves had been postponed twice, his deployment was intended to last until January 2006 and had not been extended.

A resident of Antioch in Northern California, Scheile was a 17-year veteran of the National Guard whose career reflected his itch for action.

He patrolled Los Angeles' volatile streets during the 1992 riots. He was sent to Kuwait on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the World Trade Center attacks. His deployment to Iraq began in August 2004 and -- after being extended twice -- was due to end next month.

Scheile was a front-line combat leader, and among soldiers who served with him his death hit especially hard. "He really took care of his soldiers, and not just on a military level," said Thomas Feemster, a former guardsman who spent six months in Kuwait with Scheile.

"He always made sure your gear and everything was just right ... to make sure you were safe. He got to know every guy on his squad. He'd check and see if everything was OK with your family, sit and talk about your problems. He was always willing to teach somebody what he knew, and he knew a lot."

Just three months before he died, Scheile was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered last spring in a roadside bombing. He returned to duty with shrapnel still lodged in his face.

His commanders considered him a "get-it-done kind of guy," said Maj. Daniel Markert of Scheile's home base in Oakdale. "He made the system work, or he worked the system -- whatever it took to make sure his soldiers had their needs met."

Scheile's sister said he never complained about being sent to war. "He'd say, 'This is what I've trained for all my life.' He was proud to serve his country. He took the military very seriously," she said.

He also took seriously his responsibility to shield his close-knit family -- particularly his wife, Jennifer, and two young daughters, Kelli, 9, and Marissa, 4. He e-mailed his wife almost every day, but tried not to say anything that would alarm her.

He knew his mother, Gay Scheile of Stockton, was a worrier, so he kept secret the details of his earlier injury.

Born in Vallejo, Calif., Scheile spent his childhood in Stockton, then moved to Antioch as a teenager to live with his father, Ronald, who trained him as a cement mason and worked alongside him until he left for Iraq.

Scheile was the center of a "huggy, kissy family," his sister said, doting on his nieces, devoted to his in-laws and never too busy to help friends and neighbors.

As a boy, "he'd stay outside until it was dark," she said, fishing, swimming, riding his bike and building forts in the fields near their home. As a man, he loved roaring around town on his Harley. And when his wife -- never the outdoorsy type -- balked at wilderness camping, he pitched a tent in their frontyard and camped outside with his daughters.

Still, there was no missing Scheile's softer side. The tattoo on his chest was of a tiger -- Tigger, Winnie the Pooh's bouncy, effervescent sidekick -- and below that, his daughters' names. He solicited care packages from his family, then doled the candy out to Iraqi children.

He even got his father-in-law in Arkansas to send along some fishing gear so he could share his passion for fly-fishing with his buddies in Iraq. He used the gear only once before he died.

Services for Scheile will be Wednesday in Antioch.

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