Scholarship set up in honor of former Marine

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A former student and Marine who was killed in Afghanistan will have a memorial scholarship in place next fall.

Benjamin Schmidt, who attended the university for three semesters in 2006 and 2007, left TCU to join the Marines. Schmidt had designated his life insurance money to go toward a scholarship for graduate students in the history major if he did not return from combat.

Schmidt was killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 6. His father reported to The San Antonio Express that he had fallen victim in a “friendly fire” incident. Schmidt’s mother, Becky Whetstone, Ph.D., said that she wanted students to know her son was just like they are.

“He was enjoying life to the fullest, struggling and trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life,” Whetstone said.

Lt. Col. Christopher Talcott, chair of the military science program, said students could learn from Schmidt.

“He is a perfect example of somebody who is looking out for others instead of themselves,” Talcott said. “[Marine soldiers] defend the values and freedom that we sometimes take for granted. They look beyond that and go, ‘How can I give back to my country in other ways as well?’”

Schmidt’s death touches anyone involved in military service, Talcott said.

“Anytime a soldier is killed in combat, it’s gut-wrenching and heart-wrenching for the family and those of us who serve,” Talcott said.

And now, graduate history students will have the opportunity to remember Schmidt.

Whetstone said the Benjamin W. Schmidt Memorial Scholarship  would go to “a student of history, of course, because Benjamin loved history.”

Graduate history students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a history of community involvement are eligible for the scholarship, Samantha Suttle from the Donor Relations office said.

“This time next year, we’ll be able to match [the scholarship] to a student,” Suttle said. Suttle said she sees many memorial scholarships come through the Donor Relations office.

“It’s pretty common,” Suttle said. “It’s a way to remember someone who passed away, and a lot of families do it in lieu of flowers.”

The scholarship stands for something bigger than itself, Talcott said.

“This scholarship represents all that is good about our country,” he said. “We can go to college, we have the freedom to be and do what we want to do.”

To donate to the Benjamin W. Schmidt Memorial Scholarship Fund, send a check to the university with the scholarship name in the memo line or call the Donor Relations office.

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