Schild Selected To Receive Scholarship As Gold Star Child

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan | Randy Dockendorf

Keely Schild was only 7 years old when she lost her father in the Iraq War. The Yankton woman was left not only with grief but with an uncertain future.


Army Sgt. 1st Class Rich Schild, her father, died in a Dec. 4, 2005, explosion while traveling in Baghdad. He was the platoon sergeant who took the place of a gunner — who was going on leave — in a Humvee while going out on patrol.

Afterwards, Rich’s widow, Kay, moved from Tabor to Yankton with their two children, Keely and Koby. The family persevered with the support of family and friends.

After high school, Keely dreamed of attending South Dakota State University and majoring in interior designs. However, she feared a college education might prove unaffordable or a long-term burden.

"My biggest fear going through college is having massive loans because of school," she told the Press & Dakotan.

Those fears have greatly eased, thanks to assistance from an expected source.

The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (Fallen Patriots) provides college scholarships and educational counseling to surviving military children. The non-profit organization hopes to locate the 20,000 surviving military children who could use its help.

Schild is one of those Gold Star Children, a name given to those who have lost a parent in military action.

Since 2002, Fallen Patriots has provided more than $21.4 million to more than 1,000 students throughout their undergraduate studies. April has been designated the Month of the Military Child, and Fallen Patriots is using the month to honor those children.

Schild said she has received both financial and emotional support from the organization.

"With their support, it allows me to pursue my dream of becoming an interior designer," she said. "I appreciate all that Fallen Patriots does to encourage Gold Star Children, like my brother and myself, to fulfill our educational goals."

The special month also allows her an additional opportunity to honor her father, whose example continues to inspire her.

Design Department