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Toll from war touches Hernando County

Army Staff Sgt. Michael W. Schafer, 25, Spring Hill

Schafer died July 25, 2005, while on patrol near Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was shot and killed while on a quick reaction force mission. Others survived because of his actions as squad leader, and he was awarded the Silver Star. Schafer was a 1998 graduate of Springstead High School. He and his wife, Danielle, were married in December 2000. His first job had been as a busboy at Guido's restaurant in Spring Hill, and he also had been a lifeguard at Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs.

Marine Sgt. Lea Robert Mills, 21, Masaryktown

Mills was killed on April 28, 2006, by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Al Anbar province in Iraq. Mills, who had signed on for a second tour with the Marines shortly before his death, had asked to serve in Iraq. He was deployed with an amphibian assault battalion. He graduated from Hernando High School in 2002. In August 2004, Mills married Keesha Malicoate, his high school sweetheart. After his death, his mother, Dee Mills, started an organization known as Lea's Prayers and Postage Inc., which raises money to pay the postage for care packages that are sent from Hernando County to military personnel overseas.

Army Spc. Cody C. Grater, 20, Spring Hill

Grater, a paratrooper, died in Iraq on July 29, 2007. He was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Humvee outside Baghdad. He attended Springstead High School. Family members and friends said he loved working on cars, hip-hop music and chasing girls. As a teenager, Grater had been one of the supporters of the effort to build a public skate park, and once Stewy's Skate Park opened, he was a regular there.

Army Spc. Justin Dean Coleman, 21, Hernando Beach

Coleman died on July 24, 2009, along with three other soldiers, as they were searching near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for prisoner of war Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl. Coleman was killed in a firefight with insurgents, suffering a fatal gunshot below the rib cage. He was a 2007 graduate of Nature Coast Technical High School. His family said he joined the military to earn money for college. He was married to Nicole Lynn Jenkins.

Toll from war touches Hernando County 07/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 27, 2009 10:21pm]
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