Dr. Marie G’Sell and 9-month-old son, Ben, ride on a 1968 Chevy fire truck owned by G’Sell’s dad, Dr. Martin Habur, in Monday Memorial Day parade in Carroll.
Dr. Marie G’Sell and 9-month-old son, Ben, ride on a 1968 Chevy fire truck owned by G’Sell’s dad, Dr. Martin Habur, in Monday Memorial Day parade in Carroll.
May 27, 2014

Scott Schaben remembers growing up in Carroll and viewing many Memorial Day parades - first as a young spectator and later, when he was a high school student he rode with a neighbor who'd just come home from Operation Desert Storm and saw the soldier's pride and the community's outpouring of gratitude.

Well, Schaben returned to the town where he lived from the time he was in kindergarten through his graduation from Kuemper Catholic High School in 1993. But instead of being a spectator or parade rider this year, Schaben was featured speaker for the program at Carroll Cemetery following the parade.

The 39-year-old Schaben, son of Dan Schaben, who owned Lindsay Echo Water in Carroll, and the late Darlene Schaben, entered the Navy after leaving Kuemper and served six years before his honorable discharge at the rank of E5, fire controlman second class petty officer. Since his Navy service, he received a bachelor's degree in marketing from Iowa State University in 2003, he had a successful stint managing an auto-sales dealership in Ames, and now he's running full time in a field of five candidates for the Iowa Republican Party nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Schaben's message Monday addressed pride in his country and remembering those who served in the military in order to preserve the country's freedom. And he primarily touted the opportunity and rewards of military service.

"There's nothing that makes you prouder to be an American and nothing makes you love your flag more than when you step foot in a foreign country and the first time you see something other than the American flag above a building," he said. "You know there's more to that flag, and you know you're not home anymore. And you appreciate the rights you had, and you appreciate those who have gone ahead of us who have lost their lives defending the American flag."

In the Navy, Schaben took part in both Operations Infinite Reach in August 1998 and Operation Desert Fox in December 1998.

In Operation Infinite Reach, American tomahawk cruise missiles targeted terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in retaliation for the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.

Schaben said in an interview after the program Monday, "That was the first time Americans probably became acquainted with Osama bin Laden."

The Sudan pharmaceutical factory was suspected of producing chemical weapons.

Operation Desert Fox, Schaben said, was meant to "turn off the lights" in Iraq after Sadam Hussein kicking U.N. inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction out of that country.

In both operations, Schaben pushed the button to launch missiles.

Schaben said his E5, fire controlman second class petty officer rank "sounds more glorified than it was." However, he said he's thankful for the education and many experiences the Navy gave him.

"In the military there are so many other jobs you do once you get to a ship," said Schaben, who received electronics training his first 1½ years in the Navy.

For example he said, crew members could serve on a ship's security team or 50-caliber machine gun team. Schaben became a hazardous-materials control and management technician. After college, he lived at Arnolds Park for a couple of years and volunteered with emergency medical services, the fire and rescue department and the dive rescue team.

"You learn the value of community service," he said.

Schaben told the Memorial Day crowd that lined the circle of war memorials that the example of others in the Carroll community who served in the military played a major role in his decision to join the Navy.

He urged young people to "show no fear and take action."

Don't be swayed by those who say military service is too dangerous and that those who opt for the military will miss many events, good times and experiences, Schaben added.

"If you join the military, you're going to experience events and you're going to experience certain things that your friends from high school never will be able to relate to and there's only a small band of brothers that will be able to relate. ... Young people, do not be afraid to lead a life of action. Please, do not be afraid to join our military. It will be one of the greatest experiences that you can have."

"To experience life to the fullest, take action," he said. "Today we're celebrating men and women who took action."

Those veterans took action to support the U.S. against all enemies, foreign and domestic, he noted.

"They left behind friends, and they left behind family for a greater calling, that's to preserve our freedom for future generations," he said.

Schaben said it's important to remember not only those who sacrificed their lives for their country but to thank all veterans for their service.

"Remember those who have returned (home) and haven't quite healed," he said.

Those veterans will appreciate somebody who will take time to listen to them, he said.

After the program, reminiscing briefly about his days at Kuemper, Schaben said he was more a wallflower in school, although he participated in track as a freshman and football as a senior. He also performed in a couple of the school's musicals - "The King and I" and "Annie."

"I was more in love with shenanigans that anything," he said with a laugh. "That shows there's still hope for kids out there. Don't write them off . They're not all bad."

He added, "You learn the value of getting involved."

Other speakers at the program were Carroll Chamber of Commerce president Jair Mayhall and Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers.

Mayhall said, "Our nation is strong, our state is strong and our community is strong, and there's a reason for that. On this day of remembrance I want you to say thank you to those who are serving, those who have served and those who have gone before us, for letting us have the wonderful lifestyles we can enjoy here in Carroll and here in our country."

Schweers cited the Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 12:26: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."

"Today we remember the dedication and sacrifice laid down by a few, to preserve a way of life for many," he said. "That way of life is the American way of life, defined by our Constitution and should never be taken for granted."

He added, "The military men and women who have died, and those that stand in this cemetery today, understand freedom and its high price. They exemplify stewardship and the giving of one's time, talent and treasures. This stewardship does not stop when they retire or take off the uniform, we see it through their volunteerism in our communities every day right down to the planning of this event."

Schweers said everybody has an opportunity to serve and volunteer in their communities.

"Life, much like freedom, is a gift," he said. "Service to others and volunteerism are what make Carroll the beautiful and welcoming place it is today. Service to others and volunteerism are what our veterans and those serving now have given to make the United States the greatest nation in the world. Each of you can make a positive difference through a service organization, volunteering in our schools, helping at your church or leading an initiative to improve the community."

The Rev. Cindy Johnson, pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, presented the program's invocation and benediction.

Emily Bowden, daughter of Jeff and Jenny Bowden, recited her work that won first place this school year in the Carroll American Legion flag-essay contest for Kuemper Catholic Grade School fifth-graders