Friday, March 30, 2007

Sean K. McDonald dies of injuries from I.E.D.

After spending his boyhood years in the Twin Cities area, Sean McDonald had every hope of returning next year when his Army hitch was up.
"He said he wanted to move back with us, to start his life," his sister, Jessica McDonald, said Thursday from her home in Rosemount.

Specialist Sean K. McDonald, 21, died Sunday from injuries suffered when a roadside bomb exploded near the vehicle he was driving in Baghdad.

He is the 55th person with Minnesota ties to have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He'd said it was getting pretty bad," Jessica McDonald said of her brother's recent phone calls and e-mails. "He was driving the same route every single day, so it had become very challenging for him. His unit had lost three other guys on his birthday."

McDonald was born in Burnsville on Dec. 25, 1985, to parents Russell and Marleen McDonald, who had met in the Netherlands, her homeland, while his father was serving there in the Air Force.

McDonald attended fifth and sixth grade at schools in Apple Valley.

"He was a super kid, loved soccer, a very good young man," said his grandfather, Ron McDonald.

McDonald's parents divorced and he and his mother moved to the Netherlands, where he spent his teenage years, his sister said.

He held dual citizenship and enlisted in the Army when he turned 18.

"He always wanted to be an American soldier," his sister said. "It was something he decided to do as he got older, to give him a purpose in his life.

"Sean was very patriotic, proud to be an American. He was dedicated to this country."

His grandfather, who saw his grandson on occasional trips to visit his extended family in Minnesota, used the same word.

"He was a patriot," Ron McDonald said. "I didn't like the idea of him enlisting, even though I'm a veteran, but thank God for young people like Sean."

McDonald was initially stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, assigned to the Army's 9th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.

"We wish to express our deepest condolences to the family members of Specialist Sean McDonald," division public-affairs officer Maj. Wayne Morotto wrote in an e-mail. "He will be missed, and we must not forget the valuable contribution he made to his country and the impact he has left on the Army."

McDonald was sent to Iraq in September and was scheduled to rotate out this summer, with his enlistment ending next spring, Jessica McDonald said.

"Career-wise, he wasn't sure what exactly he wanted to do after the Army, but he was definitely set to come back home here when he was done," she said. "It's horrible -- just horrible."

The Army will hold a memorial service for McDonald April 5 in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Ron McDonald said his grandson's body already has been returned to the United States and a service will be held April 9 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, where he will be buried.

From the Tribune