During Memorial Day speech, President Trump:
- Honors Tower City fallen soldier John Schaeffer
- Asks his grand nephew, Daniel Schaeffer, of Williamstown (Nativity BVM, ’99) to speak on stage
Hours after Schuylkill County residents honored our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, President Donald Trump remarked on one of those heroes halfway around the world.
In doing so, Trump also called out one of our area’s active military personnel. The Commander in Chief even called him on stage during his visit to the USS Wasp in Japan.
President Trump Honors Fallen Schuylkill County Hero on Memorial Day
POTUS Calls on Williamstown Native, Nativity High School Grad to Speak
During a Memorial Day speech, Trump called on the heroics of several fallen U.S. soldiers. Included in his remarks was Tower City’s John Schaeffer.
Schaeffer was killed in action during the Burma Campaign of World War II. He was one of 12,000 U.S. troops in Burma and among 200,000 Allied casualties in this particularly bloody campaign.
Trump was speaking aboard USS Wasp, stationed in Tokyo Bay in Japan. It was in Yokosuka Monday (Japan) as part of Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
The speech concluded Trump’s official state visit to Japan. And the speech actually happened hours after the final Memorial Day events happened here.
The President used the occasion to mark the holiday. In his speech, he said,
You’re advancing freedom on the high seas, shielding our nation from dangerous weapons and preserving the peace that generations of valiant Americans gave their lives to support.
One of those intrepid Americans was PFC John Schaeffer, born and raised in Tower City, Pennsylvania. Private Schaeffer was a group of U.S. Army Special Forces who fought in the Pacific in World War II under the legendary command of Gen. Frank Merrill.
Trump Turns Mic Over to Schaeffer’s Grand Nephew
As Trump continued, he then called an active duty soldier to the podium, Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Schaeffer. Daniel Schaeffer is the grand nephew of John Schaeffer.
Schaeffer’s from Williamstown, just over the Schuylkill County line. He graduated from Nativity BVM High School, in Pottsville, in 1999. Schaeffer is actually stationed at Yokosuka naval base.
Trump continued, “Although Private Schaeffer sadly perished in the Battle of Burma, his deep love of country endures with us in someone very special here with us today, his grand nephew Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Schaeffer.
Trump then coaxes Schaeffer to the Presidential podium and speaks directly to him.
“I want to thank you very much for the incredible job you’ve done. We picked a couple of people that are outstanding. Please say a couple of words.”
Trump then gave Schaeffer one of his trademark shoulder slugs on the back as he let him take the podium.
The impromptu moment clearly caught Schaeffer off guard, or about as off-guard as you might find a soldier.
Schaeffer recovered quickly. He said:
“Thank you Mr. President. This is amazing. You recognized my family but I know a lot of others have families that served as well. Memorial Day is a time when we honor our fellow Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you to all my shipmates and fellow Marines that are out here today. It’s a great day. Thank you, Mr. President.”
Back home, the next day, The Canary was able to get a few remarks from Schaeffer’s father, Jack Schaeffer Sr.
He tells us the moment was a complete surprise. Daniel did call home last week and asked about some information on his Uncle John.
“He said they were going to pick someone at random to talk about,” Schaeffer tells The Canary. “He had no idea they were going to pick him. We never thought in a million years that Dan would be on a stage … with the President! Very proud of his accomplishments.”
Schaeffer “Didn’t Choke”
Trump critiqued Schaeffer’s on-the-spot performance right away.
“Great job. Two great jobs (referring to another soldier he called on stage seemingly without much notice). And that’s not easy. They didn’t know they were coming up,” Trump told the crowd.
He turned back to Schaeffer and asked him casually, “You didn’t know, did you? You had no idea. No clue.”
In classic Trump style, he told the crowd, “They didn’t choke. We don’t like chokers, do we?”
“We don’t like chokers,” he whispered. And then repeated it louder. “We don’t like chokers.”
Check out the whole event streamed by U.S. Forces Japan on Twitter Sunday night (Pottsville time).
Watch video of the event here:
You can see the President honoring John Schaeffer and then Daniel Schaeffer speak at about the 20-minute mark on the video.
Schaeffer serves in the U.S. 7th fleet, the largest in the U.S. military. Its overall objective is to protect the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
USS Wasp stationed at Sasebo, Japan is a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship. It’s capable of allowing vertical take-off aircraft to operate from it, making it effective in combat operations closer to shore than other ships. The USS Wasp has 1,000 crew members and 2,000 embarked troops, according to information from U.S. Forces Japan.
It was late Sunday night (Schuylkill County time) when Trump gave his remarks in Japan (mid-day Monday there when it happened) so getting reactions to the story were tough.
His aunt, Holly Masser, did post on social media, the following: “John Schaeffer, my uncle, who died in WWII and Dan Schaeffer, my nephew. So very proud of both of them. ❤️”
Tower City’s mayor Dan Daub tells The Canary that Schaeffer’s father, Jack Sr., and son, Jack Jr., live in Williamstown and “very active” in the Williamstown American Legion.
He says, “What an honor for that family and our area!”
Jack Sr. also tells The Canary that Dan enlisted under the delayed enlistment program.
“He always wanted to be in the military since he was a kid,” he tell us.