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Local residents react to Osama bin Laden’s death

Military families who lost loved ones say killing of al-Qaida leader doesn't bring closure
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Local residents seem to agree with President Barack Obama’s statement that Osama bin Laden’s death was “a good day for America.”

U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader and 9/11 mastermind during a gun battle at a fortified compound in Pakistan Sunday.

Mark Soto of Granite Bay has a son and son-in-law currently stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. His other son is in the U.S. Army. Both sons previously served in Afghanistan.

“When they called us, we were hooting and hollering,” Soto said of his sons. "They entered the military because of that episode that occurred. We were overjoyed.”

That episode was the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“I believe (bin Laden’s death) is going to be a huge milestone in U.S. history,” Soto said. “I just got back from a funeral for 25 Marines. They’re still gone. But it’s a great thing for the 2,000 American families that have been negatively affected. It will let the families rest and help bring closure.”

One of those families is Patty and Tom Schumacher of Granite Bay, who lost their 20-year-old son Victor Dew on Oct. 13 in Afghanistan. Dew, a U.S. Marine, was killed by a roadside bomb.

“My first thought is it’s about time,” Patty Schumacher said. “The next thought is it really doesn’t change what’s happening over there. We still need to be on guard. Just because he’s gone doesn’t mean other attacks can’t be executed. Hopefully, it’s put a damper on their plans. But we still need to finish.”

Schumacher said she hopes bin Laden’s death reminds Americans why the United States originally went to the Middle East to fight militant Islamist groups, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban.

As for closure, she said bin Laden’s death doesn’t ease her pain.

“There will never be closure for the loss of Victor,” she said.

Schumacher attended the remembrance service April 29 for 25 Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment who died in Afghanistan, which included Dew. More than 200 other Marines were wounded.

Roseville resident Valerie Hoff, who is currently serving in Iraq, said she was glad to hear that bin Laden is finally off the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list.

“I can only imagine the amount of hard work and collaboration it look to finally come to that moment,” Hoff said. “I hope it will truly disrupt al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups.”

Deborah Getz of Roseville lost her 18-year-old son, Pfc. Kristofer Thomas, when he was killed in Afghanistan on Feb. 17 2007. She later founded Never Forget Our Fallen, a nonprofit organization to honor and support veterans.

“I hope it brings closure to the families of the victims of 9/11,” Getz said. “I don’t want to say it brings closure to me because I have a hole in my heart and it will never mend.”

She said if Thomas was alive today he would likely be celebrating the death of al-Qaida’s leader. But she’s still trying to figure out exactly how she feels — as “every day is a struggle to get one foot in front of the other” since the death of her son.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.