|From Vancouver, The Columbian columbian.com
Hundreds honor fallen Battle Ground soldier
Sunday, June 08, 2008
By ISOLDE RAFTERY, Columbian staff writer
They remembered him as a war hero, a playful, dynamic 19-year-old who loved God, his family and the outdoors.
About 1,000 people filled New Heights Church in Vancouver Saturday to remember Pfc. Andrew Shields, who was killed last week by a suicide car bomb in Afghanistan.
Hundreds more paid tribute from the sidewalks of Battle Ground, Shields’ hometown.
Before the service, the hearse carrying Shields coffin and a four-limousine procession drove for an hour through farmland, past Battle Ground High School where he graduated, and past the fire station where he was a cadet. Reader boards along the way read: “In honor of Andrew Shields.”
Strangers got out of their cars and put their hands over their hearts.
Inside the sanctuary, Pastor Matt Hannan spoke elegantly and prayed that he could “memorialize (Shields) in such a way that the family will be comforted.”
Hannan recited words a girl wrote in his high school yearbook, many years ago: “Find something worth dying for. Then live for it.”
Shields had found his calling, Hannan said, and was so intent on joining the Army that no one could stop him.
He had been serving in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan with the 173rd Special Troops Battalion (Airborne) out of Bramberg, Germany. He had trained as a medic, as his father had during the Gulf War.
The younger Shields was affectionately nicknamed “Doc” by his peers, a term of an endearment bestowed upon particularly adept medics.
“He always liked the idea of jumping out of planes,” his cousin Shawna Keyes, 19, said. “He lived for every extreme. When he did something, he didn’t do halfway. He did it fully.”
Alex Kenney, 15, another cousin, said he was a bit overprotective.
The week before he died, Shields chatted with Alex through MySpace.
“He said, ‘I’m going to take a bad photo of me and if any guys bug you, you can show them,’ ” she recounted.
He never took that photo, but she knew it could have been a scary one: Shields stood 6-foot-3 and was in good shape from Army training, and also from years of fishing, shooting competitively and muddin’.
The Army has promised that a general officer will attend every funeral of a soldier killed in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. On Saturday, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mike Trombetta spoke, as did Mike Gregoire, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s husband. His war was Vietnam.
“There were so many avenues open to him in life,” Gregoire said. “He chose the most difficult path, of being a soldier in war time. Four decades removed, I feel deeply the loss of men I served with who had such bright futures, but whose country called on them to service. May God look over all of you.”
Shields is the 14th person with ties to Clark County to have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Outside, his aunt, Kristi Kenney, spoke glowingly of the memorial service.
“It’s very amazing, in a world that seems like it’s shot to hell, that so many people came out to pay tribute,” she said. “And not just for a life lost, but for his future. He’ll touch so many more lives.”
After hundreds filed out of the church, Shields’ coffin stayed behind. Two Honor Guards stood on either side, their heads down. Following hours of testimony about Shields’ energy and motivation, it seemed odd that the sanctuary could be so quiet.
A medic named Candice summed up that feeling on Shields’ MySpace page later in the day: “Hey buddy, I went to your service today! Its hard to imagine you resting. You were always so motivated.”
Shields is survived by his mother, Wendy Campbell of Battle Ground, his father, Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Shields, stepmother Carol Shields, and sister Ryleigh Campbell, all of Battle Ground; and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
|From Portland, Oregon, The Oregonian oregonlive.com
1,000-plus mourners remember Battle Ground medic killed in Afghanistan
Posted by Holley Gilbert, The Oregonian June 07, 2008 16:38PM
VANCOUVER -- Pfc. Andrew Jon Shields, killed on duty after a month in Afghanistan, was remembered today as a man whose clear calling and commitment were to his country.
Trained as a U.S. Army combat medic, he was dedicated to serving others in an all-too-brief life, said Matt Hannan, pastor of New Heights Church, where more than 1,000 mourners gathered to pay tribute.
A 2007 graduate of Battle Ground High School, the 19-year-old Shields died May 31 in Jalalabad City, Afghanistan, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
Shields was the 120th member of the military with ties to Southwest Washington and Oregon to perish in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait. He was the 12th from southwest Washington.
Inside the church, crisply uniformed police and firefighters formed a lengthy honor guard, and 10 members of the Portland Police Highland Guard bagpipe and drum band played "Amazing Grace." The 10:30 a.m. service ended when Sgt. Robert Thomsen of the 234th Oregon Army National Guard band played taps at the rear of the sanctuary.
Outside, more than 60 motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders held American flags as they lined the driveway and flanked corners and doorways. Two fire engines extended and crossed their ladders, and a huge American flag hung beneath them in the drizzle.
A firefighter cadet during his senior year, Shields had obvious leadership abilities, Mike Ciraulo, a division chief with Clark County Fire & Recue, told the mourners. Ciraulo tried to steer Shields to a firefighting career, but his mind was set on the military.
Mike Gregoire, husband of Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, took the lectern in front of Shields' flag-draped casket. "We have an obligation to tell our citizens about a young man with so many options open to him who chose service to his country in wartime," Gregoire said. "We will always remember Andrew Shields, a true American hero."
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mike Trombetta told the crowd that Shields was "a standout soldier." He asked the mourners, some in military uniform, to stand as a sergeant read orders promoting Shields to private first class and awarding him the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.
Although in the Army less than a year, Shields amassed "a great amount of credibility" and numerous medals and badges, Trombetta said.
A hunter, Shields was grouping shots on targets so that the hole "could be covered with the eraser on a pencil," Trombetta said. He received the highest physical fitness ranking. And he earned the title "Doc," a term of endearment for medics, from his comrades.
Shields followed in the footsteps of his father, Jon Shields, who was a medic during the Gulf War. The younger Shields listed his father, a Clark County sheriff's deputy, as his hero on his MySpace page, Trombetta noted.
Shields also is survived by his mother, Wendy Campbell; stepmother, Carol Shields; and sister, Ryleigh Campbell.
It was clear, Pastor Hannan said, that Shields was his father's friend. "It's really remarkable when your son becomes your hero," Hannan said.