Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Russell K. Shoemaker dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

A former Missouri soldier who was killed in Iraq will be laid to rest next week at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Staff Sgt. Russell K. Shoemaker, formerly of Sweet Springs, died Thursday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Also killed was Sgt. 1st Class Robert E. Dunham, 36, of Baltimore.

They were members of a special team trained at Fort Riley and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team. The team was training the Iraqi army.

Dunham’s and Shoemaker’s deaths were the 101st and 102nd from Fort Riley in Iraq.

Shoemaker, 31, played baseball in high school and wanted to be a pro. When that didn’t work out, he turned to the Army, like his father and brother.

“He went in shortly after high school,” said his father, Keith Shoemaker, who is set to retire Wednesday after 27 years in the Army.

The brother, Kevin Shoemaker, is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood.

Russell Shoemaker, an Army reservist since 1995, had been in Iraq since January, his father said. In 2003 he did a tour in Afghanistan.

Keith Shoemaker said he talked to his son three weeks ago when he was on leave and had returned to North Carolina, where he had been living for five years.

“He was enjoying time with his wife,” he said. “They went out and did a second-honeymoon kind of thing.”

The topic of war didn’t come up much when father and son talked on the phone. Both understood what the duty meant.

The family expected Shoemaker’s body to be flown back later this week and were planning his burial for next week.

“That was something he and his wife talked about before he went over there,” Keith Shoemaker said. “…In our minds, he is an American hero.”

From the Kansas City Star