It was the summer of 2005. Shawn N. felt the intense heat as the sun beat down in the Iraqi desert.
He was on his way to his interpreter’s room after having passed along information from a contact in the city of Ramadi in the al Anbar Province.
His information helped save a patrol of Marines from venturing into an ambush. But as it turned out, Shawn was not as fortunate as the Marines.
Suddenly mortar rounds and indirect fire from the enemy landed in his base. One shell exploded only 100 yards from Shawn’s location.
Fragments of shrapnel flew in every direction. Several pieces of hot metal shot through Shawn’s stomach and out his back. Other pieces of metal hit him along his left side, including his arm and neck.
Returning to the Battlefront
Shawn staggered to a hard building before collapsing. He was medevac’d to the nearest combat hospital and underwent surgery.
Once back home in Santa Rosa, California, where he was born and raised, Shawn was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
“At that point, I needed to work, but was not fit for duty,” Shawn said. “I felt the need to go back and support the troops even more than ever.
“While still nursing my wounds, I returned to Iraq six months later, working in a support role. While working in Iraq, I remained in the Reserve component until 2011.”
Wildfire Spreads to Shawn’s Home
Twelve years later, Shawn, 43, found himself under a different kind of fire.
The Sonoma County fires were not predicted to move as quickly as they did. Nor were they expected to head in the direction of his home.
But like the shrapnel in Iraq, the fire found him. Fueled by dry conditions and wind gusts reaching 80 miles per hour, the fire roared into his Coffey Park neighborhood.
“We were woken up by our power going out, and when we took one of the dogs outside, we saw that the fire was only two blocks away,” Shawn said.
“With only 20 minutes to leave, my amazing partner, Susan, my 14-year-old son, and I gathered our most important belongings, including the dogs, and evacuated.”
Shawn Vows to Rebuild After Devastation
On the way, they found the time to help two neighbors get out of their neighborhood safely. By the time Shawn returned, his home had been completely destroyed.
The fire spared nothing. He estimates that they will have to live in a fifth-wheel trailer for the next two years while they rebuild.
“Once again I find myself in a state of chaos and calamity,” he said. “This time is different because I have no home to return to.
“Obviously there is pain with the loss of the physical items. But we still have our memories in our hearts and minds. We will clean up and we will rebuild.”
Interest in Military Begins Early
Early on in life, Shawn became interested in martial arts and the military. His family was very poor while he was growing up, so he began working at age 13 to pitch in.
He joined the Navy at the age of 19 and earned his G.E.D. Since then, he took online courses from Excelsior College. He earned two associates degrees and a bachelor’s degree in business management and psychology.
Shawn was in the Navy and the Naval Reserves for two years each before joining the National Guard.
Currently he is a customer solutions manager at Polaris Alpha, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
4Patriots Lends a Hand
We at 4Patriots were so devastated by the recent wildfires, and wanted to do something to help.
As many of our readers know, 4Patriots has long been a supporter of U.S. Armed Services men and women, as well as their families.
We came across Shawn and heard his story and wanted to lend a helping hand.
Our hearts go out to Shawn. As a gesture of thanks for all Shawn has done for his country – and to help him deal with this crisis – we have reached out to help. We recently presented him with the newest version of our Patriot Power Generator, a six-month supply of our Food4Patriots survival food, and an Alexapure Breeze air purifier.
We hope these items will aid Shawn and his loved ones during this trying time in their lives.
And we couldn’t help in these types of situations if wasn’t for you and your support, so THANK YOU.
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