Friends count on missing soldier’s stubborn streak
While the search continues in Iraq for Sgt. Anthony Schober, one of the four soldiers missing and feared captured in Iraq, his best friend has faith his longtime friend will make it.
“He’s strong-willed and doesn’t give up for anything. If there is even the smallest glimpse of hope he could make it out, Anthony won’t quit until he does,” said Josh Spriggs, 23, of Silver Springs.
Schober’s unit went missing after a convoy carrying seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter was ambushed by enemy forces as it traveled west of Mahmudiyah, Iraq, during a search for roadside bombs. The attack site is located about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
The attack killed four soldiers and three others are still missing. There is speculation they have been captured by a group linked to al-Qaida.
The three confirmed dead by the Pentagon are 40-year-old Sgt.1st Class James Connell Jr., of Lake City, Tenn.; 19-year-old Pfc. Daniel Courneya, of Nashville, Mich.; and 21-year-old Pfc. Christopher Murphy, of Lynchburg, Va.
The three others are 25-year-old Spc. Alex Jimenez, of Lawrence, Mass.; 20-year-old Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., of Torrance, Calif.; and Pvt. Byron Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich. The Pentagon says one of the four, including Schober, is among the dead, but hadn’t confirmed which one at press time.
Spriggs and Schober have been friends since they met at Douglas High School.
“The first day we saw each other, we hit it off. We’ve been inseparable since that day,” Spriggs said.
Anthony attended Douglas High School from 1999-2001.
The two men transferred to Job Corps together and later joined the U.S. Army in 2001. Both were stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. Spriggs was deployed to Afghanistan, while Schober was deployed to Iraq as part of the 10th Mountain Division.
Schober is on his fourth tour in Iraq.
Spriggs said he considers Schober like family, as close to a brother as possible. Spriggs’ 2-year-old son is named after Schober, who is the godfather to both of Spriggs’ children.
“You fall in love with him as soon as you meet him,” said Spriggs’ wife, Kathleen. “He’s loving, he’s caring and he’s unbelievably stubborn, which is what we are counting on to get him through this.”
That sentiment was echoed by Schober’s grandfather Robert Asper, of Rohnert Park, Calif.
“We’re in shock and grief and hoping he can get out,” Asper told The Associated Press. “But al-Qaeda doesn’t give people back and doesn’t go by any rules of war. They’re barbarians and they kill people.”
“I’m surprised we haven’t seen them (three missing soldiers) on TV pleading for their lives,” he said.
“We keep up hope that he’ll be found alive. But I’d say it’s a slim chance,” Asper said.
Earlier in the day, at a news conference in Carson City, Schober’s stepuncle, Bob Schober of Minden, issued a brief statement but took no questions. He was flanked by other family members, including Edward Schober, Anthony Schober’s stepfather. Roberta Schober, Anthony’s mother, did not attend.
“We want to thank the families and friends of the nation for the prayers and their support,” said Bob Schober. “Our prayers are with Anthony and the two soldiers and with their families.
“Our sympathies are with the families of the fallen soldiers. We are proud of all the armed forces, and their families and the sacrifices they are making for our nation,” he said.
Josh Spriggs said his hope was that the people holding Schober let him go.
“We are hoping they will see the news, and he will hear that we want him home and we love him,” Spriggs said. “And to people holding him we just ask that they please let him go. He’s got a family that loves him and wants him back.”
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217. The Associated Press contributed to this report.