Tuesday, October 05, 2004

For a Soldier's Soldier Shawn Clemens

I ordered my bracelet after I saw a Memorial Bracelet at the re-naming of the Cuba, NY Amvets Post #1 on September 18, 2004. The Amvets Post #1 was re-named the S/SGT Shawn M. Clemens Memorial Amvets Post #1.

My Memorial Bracelet has this inscription:

SSG Shawn M. Clemens NY Army
Enduring Freedom 29 Jan 04 KIA

A Memorial Bracelet was given to Shawn’s father Bill Clemens, by a friend of Shawn’s. I saw the bracelet on Bill’s wrist and asked him to show it to me. Bill Clemens is my son Kyle’s father-in-law. That would make Bill’s daughter Kristen my daughter-in-law. I first met Shawn when Kyle and Kristen were dating. I have several family members who have served in the armed forces of this great nation. My father was a Col. in the U.S. Air Force. My older brother was a Col. in the U.S. Army. My sister was a Brig. Gen. in the U.S. Army (also department chair for the Phys Ed. Department at West Point Military Academy); her husband was also a Col. in the U.S. Army. I also had two other sisters and a younger brother serve in the U.S. Army. I think partially because of my family’s involvement in the military, I naturally liked and admired Shawn Clemens.

Through his family, I was able to follow his career. In my opinion Shawn was a soldier’s soldier. I won’t list his entire (I think) eight year career, but Shawn was a sniper and a member of the 10th Mountain out of Fort Drum, NY. He had been deployed to Afghanistan, and was serving there at the time of his death. Although Shawn was my son’s brother-in-law, it still hurts me to think of Shawn in terms as final as death. Shawn had talked with my son about going on motorcycle rides with us when he returned to the states. We (my two sons’ and I) also recently have taken up the sport of paintball, and I am certain Shawn would have played that with us when he was able to. I would have loved to have him on our team! Shawn also left behind a three year old son who is so much his image. When I think that this little boy will grow up without his father makes me think of how lucky I was to have had my father for 49 years of my life…and what a terrific sacrifice Shawn made for his country.

Having lived with this since last January, the news reports of the KIA in the war in Iraq has a different meaning. These KIA are heroes, they are not nameless young men and women. They are sons and daughters of American families who now have to come to grips with their worst fear. I always think what a family must now experience when they have an unknown visitor, a representative of the U.S. military come to their home to notify them of their son or daughters death.

I lost my father-in-law, my mother-in-law and father in a nine month span of time. It was the single most difficult period of my life. Shawn was killed two years and two days after my dad passed away. I think about these four most wonderful people on a daily basis. I have my bracelet on my right wrist in memory of Shawn and of a life that could have been. I will always think of him, and of the other Military personnel who serve this nation so gallantly.


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