Capt. Samuel Schultz, a 28-year-old Huntingdon Valley native, was one of four Marines killed in a military helicopter crash April 3 during a training exercise in Southern California. He served for six years.
Schultz followed in his family’s footsteps to become a pilot; his father, Mitchell, is a licensed civilian pilot, and his grandfather, Albert, was a pilot in the Air Force during World War II.
“Flying was in his blood,” said his mother, Julie Schultz. He started flying before he got his driver’s license.
“It was important carrying on the tradition,” she said. “In fact, we were going to give him our airplane. He was going to come east and fly it back with my husband to San Diego.
“That just never happened.”
Sam Schultz graduated from Abington Senior High School in 2008 and enrolled in the Navy ROTC program at Penn State University. After graduating, he joined the Marines.
He was based out of San Diego with the Third Marine Aircraft Wing’s 465th Squadron.
They were practicing desert landings when their CH-53E Super Stallion crashed in a remote area near El Centro, Calif. Killed in the crash along with Schultz were First Lt. Samuel Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, N.C.; Gunnery Sgt. Richard Holley, 33, of Dayton, Ohio; and Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad, 24, of Baton Rouge, La.
“Sam was always a very friendly, outgoing, goofy kind of kid,” Julie remembered. “He loved to create fun.”
She said her son was always welcomed in older brother Eric’s circle of friends, and vice versa. As adults, they both participated in the Mummers Parade. Sam Schultz would fly in for the occasion to get decked out in his costume and proudly march down Broad Street with the Mollywoppers.
“They were in the comic division, which fits them perfectly,” she laughed.
“If there was something Sam wanted to do, Sam went out and did it,” she added. He was interested in many extreme sports and activities: skateboarding, BMX biking, surfing, kayaking, spearfishing, skydiving, motorcycle riding, scuba diving — the latter an activity he welcomed alongside his mother.
Certified locally, they last dived during a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
“He just wanted the experience,” she said, “for the adrenaline rush.”
Funeral services were held April 15 at Joseph Levine & Sons. He was buried with full military honors at Shalom Memorial Park.
The Jewish War Veterans attended as well — and that’s not the only group that reached out to the Schultz family. The community has offered an outpouring of support.
“We’ve been hearing from a lot of people,” said Julie Schultz, who used to belong to Beth Sholom Congregation, where both sons became Bar Mitzvahs. “In fact, Giant supermarket that we go to — totally unsolicited — they sent over a deli tray and the biggest vase of flowers I’ve ever seen or received. And that’s because we’re local and we’re there every day.”
Many of Sam Schultz’s friends from the Marines flew from all over the country to attend the memorial, as well as some stationed in Italy and Japan.
His commanding officer told his parents that he was going places. “They saw the talent in Sam, and that they had intentions of him going far in the Marines. He said Sam always brought light into their squadron. He always had a smile on his face.”
Julie said Sam Schultz was like a “little Mitchell,” his father, always willing to go and help anyone do anything.
“Sam died doing what he wanted to do,” Julie Schultz said. “He wanted to fly for the military, and that’s what he did. We all knew the risks that it took. But we supported him because that’s what he wanted to do, and that’s what you should do for your children.”
In addition to his parents and brother Eric, Sam Schultz is survived by grandparents Phyllis and Arnold Rosoff, and girlfriend Shea Livingston.
Donations may be made to the Travis Manion Foundation at travismanion.org, which benefits families of fallen soldiers. A friend of Sam Schultz also made a GoFundMe page to create an ROTC scholarship in his name at Penn State, via gofundme.com/sam-schultz-scholarship-fund