Afghan casualty touches Capitol community

For many in the Capitol, the war in Afghanistan suddenly became personal.

On May 29, Capt. Joseph Schultz, 36, was killed when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb, military authorities said.

Raised in Sacramento by his mother Betsy Reed Schultz, Schultz enjoyed politics and once interned in Sacramento for then-Lt. Gov. Gray Davis. He attended El Camino High School, graduating in 1993.

“Joseph was an intern during the summer of 1997 for Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis.  He had just graduated from Oregon University and had returned home to Sacramento,” says Trish Fontana, a Senate consultant with the Senate Democrats.  “I was the office intern coordinator and I remember that he came across in the interview very composed and self confident with a strong commitment to public service.”

Schultz also wanted to work in the political world and in government. In the military, he served as a member of the elite Green Berets.

“The fact that he had graduated and wanted to volunteer full time for the summer was very unique.  He was an awesome addition to the team and we offered him a job with our press unit at the end of the summer,” says Fontana. “When Gray Davis was elected governor, he then transitioned over to the governor’s Washington, D.C., office,” says Fontana, “Joseph was one of those individuals whose amazing personality filled the room.  He had an incredible sense of humor and quick wit which always shined.”

After working for Davis, Schultz decided to enlist in the army after the events of 9/11. Schultz had previously served in Operation Freedom in Iraq and was on his first tour in Afghanistan.

“We’ve been best friends since I was 15-years-old,” says Jim DeBoo, director of the Speaker’s Office of Member Services. “I have a 20-some-year relationship with this guy.”

“It has been over 10 years since I worked with Joseph and I ran into him once during that time in the halls of the State Capitol,” Fontana noted. “I was standing on the first floor by the bank of elevators when the door opened and he stepped out in his full Army uniform. I had no idea that he had enlisted and he just yelled my name and gave me the biggest hug.”

“I was devastated when I found out. But he knew what he was getting into when he went to Afghanistan,” says DeBoo. “He knew when he joined what he wanted to do and why he was doing it.”

When Fontana heard of Schultz passing she said she felt the loss keenly.

“I could see him clearly standing so proudly in the state Capitol wearing that uniform.  He was the essence of a true public servant, was larger than life and truly died a hero in service to his country.”

“He had more courage, compassion and commitment than anyone I’d ever met in my life,” added DeBoo. “He died doing exactly what he wanted to do.”

Ed’s Note: The author, Genevieve Jerome, is an intern for Capitol Weekly

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