b. 11/06/1979 Truro, Cornwall. d. 31/10/2009 Sangin, Afghanistan.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 06/2009 - 31/10/2009 Sangin.
Olaf Sean George “Oz” Schmid (1979-2009) was born on 11th June 1979 in Truro, Cornwall, to a German mother, Barbara (nee Voelker), and a Swiss father, Hans-Joerg Schmid, he was brother to Torben and half brother to Gregory. He was educated at Polwhele House School and Penair School in Truro, and was a choir boy in Truro Cathedral Choir, ultimately becoming head chorister. He first joined the army in 1996, enlisting in the Royal Logistic Corps and shortly afterwards he applied to train as a bomb disposal specialist. Schmid lived in Winchester, Hampshire, with his wife Christina (nee Avis), who he married on 1st December 2007, and his stepson Laird.
Schmid served in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia and Kosovo before he was posted to 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps as an AT Senior Non-Commissioned Officer at Alpha Troop providing close IEDD support to Special Forces and Police Tactical Firearms teams. He continued his training to become a High Threat Operator. By June 2009, he was qualified enough to be deployed to Afghanistan. He became part of Operation Panther’s Claw in Helmand Province.
During the time in Helmand, he responded to 42 IED tasks and personally dealt with 70 IEDs. A number of examples will serve to illustrate his bravery. On 9th August 2009 an infantry company was isolated by a substantial minefield; the infamous Pharmacy Road the only resupply route, was blocked by a medium wheeled tractor and another vehicle, both blown up by very large IEDs. Schmid began work within 100m of the vehicles. Over the next 11 hours, he disposed of all of the IEDs. On 31st October, he was involved in an operation near Forward Operating Base Jackson in Battle Group North's area. Having already dealt with 3 IEDs that day, Schmid and his team were moving to another compound when a searcher discovered a command wire running down the alleyway they were using. Schmid and his team were trapped, with no safe route forward or back, as they did not know which direction the IED was located. Schmid immediately took action to reduce the hazard. He traced the wire to a complex command wire IED incorporating three linked and buried charges. While he was dealing with the device it exploded, killing him instantly. His actions saved the lives of his team. He was due back to the UK the following day for leave.
His funeral took place on 24th November 2009 in Truro Cathedral attended by over 1000 people. He was then cremated at Penmount Crematorium. Christina was presented with his George Cross (posthumously awarded on 18th March 2010) by the Queen on 18th October 2010. Inexplicably, his mother and brother were not invited and only found out about the investiture when they saw it on television. Christina also received the Elizabeth Cross. Christina, who is now remarried, chose to sell his medals to Michael Ashcroft, where they are now in the Ashcroft Gallery of the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: PENMOUNT CREMATORIUM, TRURO, CORNWALL.
National Memorial Arboretum
Picture - Thomas Stewart
Olaf Schmid's George Cross on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (December 2014).
Truro War Memorial, Cornwall (Picture courtesy of Steve Lee)