Family and friends honor fallen Marine
Victor Dew was a big baby, weighing 9 pounds 10 ounces at birth. His mom, Patty Schumacher, called him “my little man.”
So it wasn’t a surprise when she once found her son, by that time only about 1 and a half years old, relaxing in his grandfather’s recliner, eating out of a box of Cheerios and watching cartoons.
“From that moment,” she said. “I knew he would be able to take care of himself. He just personified wisdom and calmness beyond his years. I never worried that he would do something wrong. He always seemed to do the right thing.”
As he grew older, this little man became an “old soul,” his mom said. In March 2009, he joined the U.S. Marines to be on the frontlines, where he felt he could make a difference, his dad Tom Schumacher said Monday, days after laying his son to rest.
On Oct. 13, Dew, 20, died in combat, along with three other Marines, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan after a roadside bomb exploded near their military vehicle during a mission. Pfc. Dew served as an anti-tank assault specialist and had been deployed only about three weeks before the fatal explosion.
At least 1,245 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of that nation in late 2001, according to an Associated Press report.
Hundreds of friends and family members gathered Thursday at St. Rose Catholic Church in Roseville to honor Dew, followed by full military honors at the East Lawn Sierra Hills Memorial Park, where he was buried.
“It’s hard to grasp that someone so young, so full of life, so caring, so full of love had to be taken so early,” said a tearful Patty Schumacher Monday, while looking through photographs of her son at her Granite Bay house.
She described how he once colored his hair bright blue right before playing Romeo at his school’s Renaissance fair and got nicknamed Papa Smurf. Several photos show Dew with his younger brother Kyle, now 11, and sister Katie, 3. Another photo shows him hugging his mom. As a kid, he hugged and kissed his parents every night. The kisses stopped when he was around 16, but he still gave hugs.
“He was just the perfect size to hug,” Patty Schumacher said.
She pointed out a picture of Dew hugging his fiancée, Courtney Gold, after he convinced her to try a scary ride at Disneyland. Another photo shows Gold with her hair and makeup professionally done, in the gown she would have worn to her wedding. She took the photo to place in her fiancee’s casket.
Raised in San Ramon, Dew grew up with a group of neighborhood boys who did everything together. He began studying martial arts at 6 years old, which he practiced for the next 13 years, eventually earning his second-degree black belt in Jujitsu.
When Dew was 12 years old, his family moved to Granite Bay. He graduated from Granite Bay High School in 2008, where he played freshman and junior varsity football. English teacher Jenny Padgett had Dew as a freshman.
“I remember him walking to school in his football jersey and carrying his pads,” Padgett said. “It was such a beautiful image. ... Everyone knew him to be a good guy. He was a football player, but didn’t possess a jock mentality. He was a gentle person and had a sense of humor. He was comfortable with adults. He was so remarkable that way."
After graduation, Dew attended Sierra College. But he wanted to join the Marines and even though that possibility is “every mother’s worst fear,” Patty Schumacher understood.
Tom Schumacher said his son — who he legally adopted about two years ago, but had raised for the last 14 years — was willing to sacrifice for his country.
“It’s hard to think about all the stuff he won’t be able to do,” he said, “All the life events that are going to be missed.”
One of those events is his marriage to Gold, whose friend, Cassi Bradburn, was asked to be a bridesmaid.
“I only met (Victor) once, but he left quite an impression,” Bradburn said. “He was funny, always smiling. He was perfect for her.”
Dew proposed to Gold at Disneyland this past August.
“The love of her life is gone and that’s one of the things that really hurts me,” Patty Schumacher said. “We had him for 20 years, but he was her future. It just pains me that they’re not going to have that.”
Dew’s childhood friend, Chris Carvalho, was supposed to be the best man at the wedding.
"Victor had a real tough skin, but underneath was nothing but love,” Carvalho said, during the eulogy he gave Thursday. “He was the most unselfish person I ever met. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”
The two boys got rowdy as kids and would fight and wrestle, and be friends the next day. Carvalho said Dew had an adventurous side, once trying to do a double front flip in a bounce house — he broke his nose.
"Although I, like everyone out here, (feel) robbed for the loss of such an incredible person, I am grateful for the time I spent with him,” Carvalho said. “We all love you Victor. Thank you for everything.”
Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.