Remembering the fallen

A tribute to troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Stephen D. Shannon

Killed on Jan. 31, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Guttenberg man killed in combat in Iraq was unique, “one of a kind” from the first day of his life, his mother said Friday.

Army Reserve Cpl. Stephen D. Shannon was “by no means a saint,” his mother Joan Shannon said Friday, “but definitely a hero.”

Shannon, 21, was killed Wednesday in Iraq. The military confirmed his death for the first time on Friday, and his family, including his mother, father and three siblings, gathered at the family’s rural Guttenberg home for a press conference to talk about his life.

Shannon was a combat engineer with the C Company, 397th Engineer Battalion, in Wausau, Wis. The unit arrived in Iraq in September, with a mission to clear roadside bombs. Shannon was performing those duties when the armored vehicle he was driving was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade on the driver’s side, killing him.

His last trip home came in late September. He spent four days in Guttenberg, but they went by fast, Joan Shannon said.

“He was hardly ever at home, because he was out with his many friends all the time,” she said.

Stephen was a popular student at Clayton Ridge High School in Guttenberg, where he graduated in 2003. He served as president of his junior class and was a musician and an athlete, before going on to the University of Northern Iowa, eventually majoring in criminology.

His final call home to his family was about a week ago, the Shannons said, and it was unremarkable. It was a routine call — Stephen faithfully called home each week and “he sounded good,” his mother said.

“He had found his purpose. He liked what he was doing,” she said.

Stephen’s sister, Kathleen Shannon, 19, recently joined the Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps. She wants to become an rmy nurse, and said she is proud of her brother.

“I saw what he had become. I also wanted him to have to salute me when I became an officer,” she said.

Shannon’s body is expected to return to Guttenberg next week, and the family plans to have a viewing and funeral Mass. Joan Shannon said the public will be welcome.

“This kid was pretty special,” she said. “If this is his 15 minutes of fame and people want to be a part of it, I have no restrictions.”

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