A Marine who graduated from Hereford High School in Baltimore County in 2002 was killed this week in Fallujah - the school's second alumnus to die in Iraq in a little more than a month, the Department of Defense announced yesterday.
Cpl. Joshua D. Snyder, 20, died Wednesday from wounds suffered under enemy fire while patrolling in Fallujah. Snyder, a rifleman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., had been in Iraq since September.
Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III, 21, of Parkton, Snyder's friend since middle school, his teammate on the Hereford football team and his roommate at boot camp, was killed in Iraq on Oct. 19.
News of Snyder's death stunned the small northern Baltimore County community of Hampstead and proved especially difficult for members of the 2001 state championship Hereford football team on which Snyder and Anderson played.
"We're a very close-knit community, and especially the kids that played football," said Steve Turnbaugh, head coach of the Hereford High School football team. "Once you're a Hereford Bull, you're always a Hereford Bull."
After an injury prevented Snyder from suiting up for games, Turnbaugh said, the young man served as a sort of "student coach."
"How could these kids from the same school, who were so close, both have this happen to them?" Turnbaugh said. "It's hard to believe."
Like Anderson, Snyder enlisted in the Marines in December 2002, with the help of the same recruiter who frequented their high school. Snyder served in Afghanistan for about nine months last year, and he left for Iraq in September.
Snyder's mother, Doris, said last night that her son had wanted to join the military since ninth grade, a goal that stemmed from his dedication to Scouting, an early foundation in his life, and his moral and religious beliefs. She said he also wanted to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, who served in the Air Force.
"I really had second thoughts about it and everything, but I told him if that's what he really wanted to do," Doris Snyder said.
"He needed to go to Iraq," she said. "He said they needed him over there."
Snyder, who lived with his mother and younger brother, Brian, a 10th-grader at Hereford, loved skiing, hunting and fishing, his mother said. She said he planned to leave the Marines in December 2006 and embark on a career that would bring him in touch with his love: the outdoors. Snyder's mother said her son planned to move to Colorado to open a ski lodge.
She said funeral plans were not complete, but she hoped to have her son buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Turnbaugh said the school was planning to hold a memorial service for Snyder, as it did for Anderson.
Doris Snyder recalled yesterday the phone call she received from her son after he learned of Anderson's death. "When he heard, he called home and was crying," she said. "That was his friend since middle school. They went into the Marines under the buddy system."
At boot camp, the two were roommates, and despite Anderson's fighting pneumonia, which held him back a week, the two were inseparable, their families said. At Camp Lejeune, they lived near each other and often accompanied each other on the long ride from North Carolina to Maryland. They were separated when they shipped overseas, but kept in touch by e-mail, Doris Snyder said.
"He was amazing," said Norman's mother, Robyn Anderson, referring to Snyder. "He was such a good friend to Norman. When there was ever a time when they needed each other in their lives they were there for each other. He was a good, good kid."