NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — It was a sad, but heartfelt evening Wednesday in New Braunfels as a crowd gathered to remember the latest Central Texas soldier to die in Afghanistan.
A memorial held at the New Braunfels High School stadium for Marine Sgt. Thomas Spitzer brought together friends, family, classmates, former coaches and teachers, and others from around town who came to pay their respects.
Spitzer, 23, was killed June 25 during his second tour of Afghanistan.
While playing on his high school football team, he told one coach he wanted to be a Marine since he was 12 and enlisted upon his graduation in 2009.
“He was just the nicest guy, very kind and gentle,” former classmate Brooke Hamilton remembered. “We were senior high classmates. I haven’t seen him since. It’s just so tragic.”
“He had the nicest smile and he’d do anything for you,” Danielle Hidalgo added. “Everyone liked him.”
A third classmate, Travis Maule, says he was inspired by Spitzer. “He was one of the really good guys. I’ll always remember him as one of the best people in my life.”
Almost exactly three years ago another New Braunfels Marine died in Afghanistan on June 28, 2011. Cpl. John Farias was a classmate and friend of Spitzer. They played football together and both loved their hometown and the Corps.
“They are together again,” one mutual friend said, “and now they are guarding the gates to heaven.”
Spitzer’s remains will be flown home Friday afternoon, the Fourth of July, with an honor guard procession waiting. His family will be at the airport along with his fiance. They were engaged on New Years Day.
The plane is expected to arrive about 2:30 p.m. to take Spitzer’s body to Zoeller Funeral Home. The procession route will proceed from the airport onto FM 758 to SH 46 South (at Clear Springs), then onto SH 46 South toward Business 35, then left onto Business 35 toward S. Seguin Ave, then right onto S. Seguin Ave toward Main Plaza, from Main Plaza to N. Seguin Ave to Landa St, and finally on Landa St. toward Zoeller Funeral Home.