MARRIOTTSVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — When Second Lieutenant Louis J. Schott landed in the first wave on Peleliu, the young platoon leader didn’t think he would live very long. “Every minute, there was no long term planning,” laughed Schott.
But Schott defied the Grim Reaper on Peleliu and later on Okinawa during World War Two in the Pacific, and celebrated his 100th birthday on August 10, 2020. Colonel Schott, USMC Retired, stood at attention, with his officer’s swagger stick in his left hand, and waved to well-wishers who drove past American Legion Post 223 in Sykesville, Maryland near his home.
The COVID-19 restricted birthday party brought back a rush of memories; some bad, some good.
“The proudest day of my life was when I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps,” Schott told some 200 well-wishers who maintained social distancing on the parking lot of the VFW post.
Lt. Schott fought with First Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, First Marine Division. 1/5 is the most decorated regiment in the Corps. It’s also the same unit I was embedded with during the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But action in the Middle East paled in comparison to what Schott experienced in the Pacific.
The Blue Diamond patch worn by Schott and other members of the First Marine Division reminds him of his five daughters who helped him celebrate his 100th birthday.
“The five stars represent the Southern Cross which was a very prominent constellation of stars in that area of the Pacific, so Schott can relate to that patch.
His five daughters watched as their father cut a birthday cake with his officer’s sword, and in keeping with Marine Corps Birthday tradition, he gave the first piece of cake to the youngest member of his family, a great-grandson.
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball III presented Colonel Schott with a proclamation; declaring August 10th, 2020 Colonel Louis J. Schott USMC Retired Day. Other groups including the Marine Corps League and the Governor of Maryland sent similar tributes that were graciously accepted by an aging “Officer and Gentleman.”
When I asked Colonel Schott when he plans to report to his final duty station, he grinned, grabbed my hand and said, “Only the Lord knows about that.”
“And that’s above your pay grade?” I replied.
“That’s exactly right, One day at a time buddy,” said Colonel Schott.