Thursday, April 05, 2007

Army Specialist Jason A. Shaffer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Jason A. Shaffer, 28, of Derry, Pa.

Spc. Shaffer was assigned to 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 5 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -- A 1997 graduate of Derry Area High School on his second tour of duty in Iraq was killed Thursday when the vehicle he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device.

Cpl. Jason A. Shaffer, 28, was an Army scout with the 1st Cavalry Division, said his father, Roger Shaffer, of Front Royal, Va. He was with his squad in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle when it was hit in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad.

Roger and Gwen Shaffer, who moved from Derry to Virginia several years ago, were notified of their son's death Thursday.

"He died for our country," Roger Shaffer said Friday.

Before enlisting in the Army, Jason Shaffer worked as a security guard at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township, at Waste Management Inc., and for a landscaping service. He also studied to be a municipal police officer.

Because he loved to hunt, fish, camp and hike, Shaffer enlisted to be an Army scout. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron of the 7th Regiment, which is part of the Iron Horse Brigade. The regiment once was commanded by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

"That's what he loved," Shaffer's father said. "He loved his job."

Roger Shaffer said his son was up for promotion to sergeant.

"My son was a go-getter," he said. "When he was growing up, I taught him to be a leader. I'm a carpenter, so since he was 5, I gave him tools. It was something he liked to do."

Jason Shaffer served his first tour in 2004 and was sent back to Iraq in October. He had been notified his unit would serve a third tour in 2009, his father said.

Scouting is dangerous work; his son was often in life-threatening situations, but was proud that during his first tour his squad had only one casualty, Roger Shaffer said.

"He brought all his people home. Their parents appreciated that," his father said.

"He was a great guy," said James Lewis, of Derry, a lifelong friend. "He loved to go hiking, backpacking -- and music, music was his passion."

Tim Kunkle, of Derry, has been a friend of Jason Shaffer since the eighth grade.

"He saw a lot of action on his first tour," Kunkle said. "He was very positive. One of his buddies took some shrapnel in the leg. He came back and felt they were helping the general cause of the war. "

During his second tour, Shaffer was in an ambush that killed three soldiers in his unit.

Kunkle said Shaffer described riding in the first Bradley in a convoy when it was ambushed by insurgents. The first two vehicles were allowed to pass. Insurgents detonated a remote-controlled bomb as the third vehicle passed, killing three "very good friends" of Shaffer, Kunkle said.

"They were family in his eyes," Kunkle said.

He said Shaffer was due to come home on leave April 28 and planned to spend time with his wife, the former Kathleen Connor, a fellow student at Derry. She now lives in Oregon with her 2-year-old son.

"She told me he had called a few days ago. She said he was actually in good spirits. They were talking about having a baby," Kunkle said. "He was a wonderful person. He deserved better. It's a tragedy. He was only 28."

Army Specialist Jason A. Shaffer was killed in action on 04/05/07.

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