Soldier Honored: Shawn English
Branch of Service: Army
Captain Shawn English spent nearly all of his adult life in the Army, first as an enlisted soldier, then as a commissioned officer after attending college. He served in an armored cavalry unit during the first Gulf War, later joined a Ranger battalion, and, in 1999, became a diver. English and his family moved to Panama City, Florida in 2003, when he took command of the Army training company attached to the Navy’s joint military diving school. Then in February of 2006, English deployed to Iraq to lead a group of American soldiers helping to train the Iraqi Army to fight insurgents. He and the other eleven soldiers in his unit were imbedded with an Iraqi Division, which meant that they ate and slept in the field with them, not on an American base. Although he appeared tired, stressed and several pounds thinner to his wife during their last Web cam conversation only hours before his death, English felt strongly about his vocation and believed he was helping to bring “God-given freedoms” to the Iraqi people.
On December 3, 2006, the thirty-five year old Ohio native, climbed into the front passenger seat of a Humvee for a patrol mission near Sadr City, the Shiite stronghold in Baghdad. That morning, English had told their interpreter to sit behind the driver and not behind him because he felt the other seat would be safer in the event of an attack. Not long after leaving the Baghdad command post, the Humvee struck an improvised explosive device. English was the only casualty. The driver of the vehicle shared with Tricia, English’s wife, nearly a year later, that Shawn’s last words were ‘that he loved her and their boys more than life itself’.
Following her husband’s death, Tricia was devastated by her loss, but was determined not to allow herself and her three boys to become victims in the tragedy. She admits her journey has not been an easy one, but the best way to honor her late husband’s legacy was to take care of his sons and use the tragedy as a catalyst to do good things.