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Sometimes heros are just around the corner

Welcome home! Army Major Larry Shea (right) finally spends time at home with his wife Anna, (left) and their threedaughters pictured from the left Lauren, Kelsie and Reagan. Shea, a resident of Castle Pines North, served two tours in Iraq with the Army Reserves and was away for more than 30 months. (Photo by Tim Gamble)

by Lane Roberts

Heros often go unnoticed and unrecognized. In fact, sometimes they are right in your own neighborhood.

Military service members and their families are embedded throughout the Castle Pines North (CPN) community and often deal with long deployments – – one day at a time.

For six year CPN resident Larry Shea, being in the Army Reserves meant two tours in Iraq and more than 30 months away from his wife, Anna, and their three children.

Major Shea has been in the Army Reserves since 1989. In January, 2003, he left for Iraq. His girls, Kelsie and Lauren, were six years old and 15 months at the time.

“During the march up to Bagdad, my family didn’t hear from me for four months,” said Shea. “In June of 2003, I got a hold of a satellite phone and called them.” By September of that year, he was able to send a weekly e-mail to his wife.

A Task Force Gunner for the Fourth Infantry Division, Shea said his unit was originally scheduled to come up to Bagdad through Turkey, but shifted to Kuwait and came into Tikrit, and then into Bagdad.

When he returned from his first 15-month Iraq tour (January 2003 to April 2004) Kelsie was seven-and-a-half years old and Lauren was already three.

In between the two tours came daughter number three. “Reagan was our war baby,” Shea said.

Following his first tour, Shea’s brigade spent time in Africa. When he returned home, he picked up where he left off, and continued with his job as District Manager for DHL.

During his second tour, Shea was with the Fourth Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division and served the entire 14 months in southeast Bagdad. “The first tour I ate rations for six months,” he said. “The second tour was really good and I was able to call home and had e-mail the whole time.”

Shea was a Civil Affairs Officer during his second tour and served as a coach and mentor to Iraqi government officials. He said the second tour was much more organized and while the Iraqi government is very corrupt, there were police on the streets and local neighborhood reconciliation. “There was lots of improvement between the two tours,” he said. “By this tour, you could see the Iraqi government is starting to get things done.”

At the start of his second Iraq tour, the Shea girls were ten, five and two years old. When he returned, his girls had grown even more, and Shea’s full time job with DHL was gone.

“I flew into Pope Air Force Base on a C-17 and on the radio I heard DHL announced a 20,000 employee layoff,” he said. By mid-December of last year, he knew his DHL facilities had been closed. Shea was the DHL District Manager for Southern Colorado and parts of New Mexico.

“I am job hunting now, but it is really tough,” he said. “I’ve sent out about 30 resumes but no one is really hiring.” He says he doesn’t want to leave Colorado and will soon head to Germany with the Army Reserves for a month-long tour.

Shea said the war wasn’t the hardest part of his deployment. For him, it was missing his wife and girls.

“My wife struggled to do homework with them, and soccer, and Brownies, and all the activities to get things done for them. I think deployments are harder for my wife than for me. I took my three girls to the store the second day I got back, and it was like herding cats; they don’t do what you say like a Private. Her job is definitely harder.”

From this writer’s perspective, Shea’s humility about his service in Iraq doesn’t begin to overshadow his sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, please take time to thank a veteran. Or, take time to help a military family in our community. You might even find one in your neighborhood.



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