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Upshur native wounded in mortar attack

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

ROCK CAVE -- Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduate Shawn Paul Monroe, 31, is recovering in Landstuhl, Germany, after being seriously injured by a mortar Monday in Iraq, his family said.

The U.S. Army military police sergeant was wounded while on break in front of a Baghdad police station, said his mother, Nina Monroe of Rock Cave.

Nina Monroe said a badly connected phone call from her son delivered somber news.

He said, "'Mommy, I've lost my legs,'" Nina Monroe said.

"Shawn was sitting in front of the station. He had his door open with his feet propped out the window. A mortar went off between the vehicles," she said.

Nina Monroe talked to Army officials Monday evening in Washington, D.C., who told her that Shawn was listed as very seriously injured with an amputated lower left leg and right leg below the knee.

That was all his family knew until Wednesday.

"I just received wonderful news. They were able to save one leg," she said in a Wednesday phone interview from her home. "The knee is messed up pretty bad, but they were able to save it."

Shawn told his mother during the Wednesday call, "I am drugged but have my mind. Other parts are missing."

Monroe said he was able to wiggle the toes on his right foot following surgery Wednesday.

"One thing bothering him more than anything is that his friend died. She lost her life," his mother said.

A female military police officer was in the same vehicle with Monroe when the mortar hit. Nina Monroe did not know her name or where she was from.

Shawn Monroe does not know how long he will be in Germany so his mother and father, "Arnie," are working to expedite passports to Germany. Shawn has a brother in the Army National Guard based in Martinsburg.

Growing up in Upshur County, Shawn was involved in soccer, track, singing, dancing, choral music and community theater in high school, according to his mother.

He graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a sociology degree. He was a star track athlete specializing in hurdles and jumping events for the Bobcats, according to Coach Jesse Skiles.

Shawn Monroe later worked as a corrections officer in the North Carolina state prison system before going into the Army about four years ago, his mother said.

"He was deployed to Iraq from Guyson, Germany," she said.

He married his wife, Kristi, while stationed in Germany. She was in the military at the time. They live in Houston.

"Shawn's faith is sustaining him," his mother said. "We're blessed to have him alive when so many are not yet back alive. We hope that they will finish the job there and that Shawn did not give up his leg for nothing."

Staff writer Darlene J. Taylor can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com.