To the Editor:
On Monday, Nov. 10, I had the privilege of attending the military funeral of U.S. Army Sergeant Sawn Monroe Dugan. He was Hamilton County's and Webster City's first fatal casualty from the War on Terrorism. I went as a family friend, plus as a member of the American Legion Post 191's Honor Guard.
For many years, Shawn, his mother Laura Stein, stepfather Dennis Stein plus brothers Jeremy, Eugene, Jacob and sister Amanda lived diagonally across the street from me. During this period, I saw them grow and witnessed many of their youthful antics.
Not long after graduating from Webster City High School in 2007, Shawn enlisted in the Army. After basic and advanced training, he was assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska., from where he did deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. While in Iraq, he was wounded when the truck he was driving hit an Improvised Explosive Device. After recovery, he returned to Alaska before the Afghanistan tour.
I got to see shawn at a local grocery store when he was home on leave one Christmas season. I mentioned how proud I was of him and wished hhim the best.
Sgt. Dugan was killed ina traffic accident on Nov. 30 near Fairbanks, Alaska. At his service, his platoon leader, Sgt First Class Tate, spoke of how they had saved each other from harm, at separate times, while in Afghanistan and how he knew how to decompress after harrowing experiences.
His best buddy, from Minnesota and now in that state's National Guard, spoke of his personal grief for Shawn, praised him and told how they first met, plus a family friend read a poem dedicated to him.
From conversations with the family, I found out Shawn had matured while int he Army. That he was to be discharged in two months and was looking forward to reuniting with his wife Abby and daughter, Allissa.
Before the service, I spoke briefly with Brenda Stotser from the Iowa Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America who was there for the funeral. Since the young sergeant died while on active duty during wartime, his mother and wife will each receive a gold star banner with his name, rank and branch of service on it.
In tribute, I close with this - Some may recognizze the style from my recently published list of Hamilton County casualties of World War II in the Daily Freeman-Journal:
1:?Dugan, Shawn Monroe, Army Sgt., died Non-Battle traffic accident, Fairbanks, Alaska, War on Terrorism, 11-30-12.