Monday, May 17, 2010
His Star Has Turned From Blue to Gold
Marine Cpl. Kurt Shea of Frederick, Md., killed in Afghanistan
By Tara Bahrampour
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The family of Cpl. Kurt S. Shea, a 21-year-old Marine from Frederick, had been planning a party for July 4 to celebrate the end of his tour in Afghanistan. Instead, on Tuesday, relatives were preparing to go to Dover Air Force Base to retrieve the body of Shea, who was killed Monday in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.
He died doing what he had always longed to do, said his mother, Linda Shea. "When he was 3, he wanted to be an Army man," she said, adding that she probably still has her son's crayon drawings of military men from that time.
The Department of Defense said that Shea, a radio operator assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division Forward, died while supporting combat operations. His mother said preliminary reports say he was killed by a gunshot to the head.
After investigating all the branches of the military during high school, Shea chose the Marines and signed up before beginning his senior year, his mother said.
He was attracted to the discipline and physical rigor. "Kurt did not ever sidestep a challenge," she said, adding that his three years of service had helped him develop. "He was always respectful, he became more respectful; he was always mature, he became more mature."
Shea's friends were reeling from the news, with messages about his death appearing on Facebook and pouring in to the Web site of Maryland DeMolay, a youth fraternity Shea had been a member of since his early teens.
Jonathan Adler, one of his fraternity brothers, said Shea had wanted to study kung fu. "We were going to look into schools in the area so that we could train together," he said. "He demonstrated many qualities that would have made him a great martial artist."
Courtney Duvall, a classmate at Frederick High School, recalled a gesture Shea made when she was a new student at Frederick High. "He was kind enough to invite me to his table with his friends at lunch when I first started," she said.
Shea was to serve one more year in the Marines, after which, his mother said, he was trying to decide whether to continue or pursue a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. "He wanted to protect," she said. "He's a big brother."
His sister Olivia, who is in high school, felt that protection, his mother said. "With the guys that are paying attention to her, Kurt reminded her to remind them that her brother's a Marine."
Shea, who was promoted to corporal in April 2009, was still getting used to overseeing people, his mother said. "He would ask for advice: How do you supervise people?" He would also ask for Girl Scout peanut butter cookies and Hostess banana cupcakes, which his family would send in the mail.
Shea will be buried in Frederick, his mother said.
Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.