WASHINGTON – A Hereford High School graduate died in Iraq Wednesday, making him the Parkton school’s second alumus killed in just over a month.
A Hampstead native known for his devotion to his family, friends and teammates, Marine Cpl. Joshua D. Snyder, 20, died from wounds from small-arms fire he sustained while patrolling in Fallujah. His classmate, Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III, 21, was killed Oct. 19 by a suicide bomber in Karabilah.
The two were longtime friends, high school football teammates and boot camp roommates at Camp Lejeune, N.C., before heading to Iraq with different battalions.
Snyder’s death, announced by the Defense Department late Thursday, put his alma mater in the company of at least two other schools in Maryland that have lost multiple students to the war.
“It’s sort of unbelievable,” said Hereford football coach Steve Turnbaugh. “You probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning than having this happen.”
Snyder joined the Marine Corps in December 2002 after graduating from Hereford earlier that year. He also served a tour in Afghanistan before his Iraq deployment.
Family remembered him as an enthusiastic outdoorsman with a gift for making people laugh and who treated his friends like siblings.
“If you were his friend, you were his friend for life,” said his mother, Doris Snyder, 48. “They became his brothers and sisters.”
This was especially the case with Snyder and Anderson, who had been friends since middle school and even joined the Marine Corps on the same day. Doris Snyder said that made Anderson’s death especially hard on her son.
“Norm was like family to him,” she said. “Yet he knew that he had to carry on, now for both him and Norman. He knew he needed to be there.”
This dedication to others surfaced notably while in high school, where his devotion to his teammates overrode his own interests.
Turnbaugh said even though roster limitations sharply reduced Snyder’s playing time his senior year, the dedicated wide receiver continued to participate in grueling practices with full knowledge that he likely would not suit up.
Snyder made the best of the situation by serving as a player-manager for the team, eventually earning the honorary title “Coach Snyder” from Turnbaugh’s staff.
“We didn’t even look at him like a student. He was a coach, and the whole staff related to him that way,” Turnbaugh said.
As Hereford made a championship run that year, his teammates asked Turnbaugh to allow Snyder to suit up, and the coach obliged. During the title game, Snyder lined up on the field alongside his pal Anderson and took part in six plays.
“I can’t express how much that meant to him, he was so happy he actually got to play,” Doris Snyder said, adding that her son continued to track the team’s performance after graduating.
She said she is comforted by her son’s passion for his duty and service.
“If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” she said. “This is what he wanted to do. He loved his job, and I can accept that.”
Snyder is survived by his mother; a brother, Brian, 16; and grandparents Donald, 70, and Norma, 68, all of Hampstead. Funeral and burial arrangements are not yet complete.
– 30 – CNS-12-2-05