Mother remembers soldier killed in training accident

MEDINA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A soldier from Western New York lost her life last Friday in a military training accident at the Holland Drop Zone, near Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Sergeant Shaina Schmigel, of Medina, died at the age of 21 during a paratrooper training exercise. Karie Schmigel says her daughter loved the Army. Shaina joined the Army right out of high school and Karie says her daughter loved serving her country and was living her dream.

“She was a very outgoing person. Very strong. When she set out for something, she was going to do it. Nothing was stopping her,” she said,” Karie said.

Her mother says the family lived in Batavia before moving to Medina in 2006. Sgt. Schmegil graduated from Medina High School and enlisted in the Army.

“She moved here freshman year and quickly got involved in everything,” Principal Mark Kruzynski said.

“She was great. She was always participating. She was very smart. And she knew what she wanted to do. She was very driven,” teacher Krista Duhow said.

After her first tour of duty ended, in which she served in Iraq in 2011 and earned several military honors, including the Army Achievement medal, Sgt. Schmegil took a brief break before re-enlisting for another four years in October. She had been training for a deployment overseas with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, where she would have been stationed in Italy, when she was killed.

Her mother knew she would be leaving in August and just visited her last month.

“We just wanted to go down and spend time with her because she was going to be gone for a few-year tour,” Karie said. “We went to the zoo, went to lunch, we did everything we could do.”

“I’m going to miss everything about her. I’m going to miss her phone calls, ‘Mom, I got a new medal.’ ‘Mom, I got a new ribbon.’ ‘Mom I just got an award.’ I guess I’m still kind of in shock mode. I keep thinking she’s going to call me because we talked two to three times a week. Every Saturday we talked. Every Sunday we talked.”

Karie also says she will miss her daughter’s funny jokes. She says her daughter also leaves behind a brother and a sister, and countless family and friends. Every year, Sgt. Schmigel would return home and visit Medina High School in uniform to surprise her sister.

“She’s inspired a lot of people to do so many things for our country,” Sgt. Schmigel’s sister Sheniqua said.

The Army is still investigating what went wrong. The family has only been told that Sgt. Schmigel was found dead after a nighttime training jump.

Karie said, “My daughter served her country. She did what she could do. I have to bury my daughter, possibly in a few days.”

“I just loved her so much and wish she didn’t have to go,” Sheniqua added.

Sgt. Schmigel’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Albert Paquin, issued a statement saying their thoughts and prayers were with the friends and family in this time of loss.

A public Facebook page has been set up in her honor, friends are asking you to “like” it to remember Sgt. Schmigel as an American hero.

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