Friday, January 26, 2007

Darrell W. Shipp dies of injuries from I.E.D.

HARLINGEN — Standing inside the kitchen surrounded by framed photos of her brother, Army Reserve Spc. Donna Rosales said she was still processing in her mind the death of her brother, Pfc. Darrell Shipp.

“It still seems like a mistake, like somehow they’re going to tell us it’s the wrong person or the wrong body,” Rosales, 23, said brushing away tears from her red cheeks. “It can’t be him.”

The Shipp family was informed Thursday that their only son was killed Thursday morning by an improvised explosive device. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle he normally drove was broken and instead he was driving a Humvee.

“He hated that thing,” Shipp’s father Doyle said while pointing to a photograph. “This (Bradley Fighter Vehicle) would have probably saved his life.”

According to a casualty list, he was killed around 2:30 a.m. Texas time, his father said.

The family stood in the kitchen on about an hour’s worth of sleep, looking at photographs and meeting with Shipp’s friends. Harlingen school officials and Mayor Rick Rodriguez also met with the family.

From a sign at a window to half a dozen “Support our Troops” yellow ribbon magnets on the refrigerator, signs of a military family are everywhere in the Shipp home.

Shipp, 25, who was born in San Antonio, spent his last two years of school at Harlingen High School from which he graduated in 2000.

He returned to San Antonio, working as a waiter and used car salesman. A short time later, he joined the Army.

He never explained why he joined, but relatives say Shipp wanted to get help to pay for college.

It wasn’t clear what his future ambitions were.

“He talked about a lot of things, I don’t really know what he planned on doing,” his father said.

But his greatest ambitions, the family said, were racing and music.

As a drag racer on Harlingen and San Antonio city streets and race parks, Shipp had won trophies, which the family displayed.

At about 13 years old, Shipp was given a guitar and never let it go.

“He just kept going, got good at it and got to the point where he could play anything,” his father said.

Rosales, one of Shipp’s three sisters, said that while living here Shipp started a punk band called Celebrate Tuesday. When he moved to San Antonio, he reformed the band.

“They opened up for major bands,” she said. “He was getting up there.”

Shipp left Fort Hood on his birthday in October, Rosales said.

The day his plane left, his parents stayed with him until 4 a.m.

“He hugged me so tight he wouldn’t let go,” his father said, holding the photo of the two from the day Shipp left. “Then he started crying.”

The last time the Shipps heard from their son was a few days ago. When he first arrived in Iraq, Shipp spoke with his family consistently, either by phone or the Internet. Both Shipp and his mother Regina have MySpace profiles.

“He hated (Iraq),” his father said. “He said once he left he’d never go back. I guess he got his wish.”

In a Nov. 3 message to his mother on MySpace, Shipp wrote, “The desert is weird. Sand is everywhere, but I can’t find the beach.”

The friends Shipp made meant a lot to him, Rosales said, and because of them, he decided to go to Iraq.

“He didn’t want to let them go alone,” she said of his Army friends.

Military officials told the Shipp’s that their son’s body may arrive in two weeks. Harlingen school officials informed the family that his classmates were expecting to attend his funeral to share their memories of Shipp.

“The funeral would last about three days because you can’t stop,” his father said, with his lower lip trembling. “He was just a good kid. He had lots of friends.”

Mayor Rodriguez said city buildings would lower their flags at half-staff for a week. He will speak with the City Commission about memorializing Shipp.

“This is a day that I’ve been dreading … the war has come home to Harlingen,” Rodriguez said. “I ask all the citizens of Harlingen … to pray for his family during this tragic time.”

From the Herald