Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard, 38, of De Smet, S.D.

SSgt Barnard was assigned to the 3rd Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Detachment), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died May 19, 2010 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he stepped on a secondary improvised explosive device.

DeSmet native Shane Barnard died in Afghanistan on Wednesday of injuries he sustained from an improvised explosive device.

Yesterday we were able to spend some time with Barnard's brother, Alex Botkin and we wanted to share some more of that with you tonight.

"I didn't want to believe it. You know, just couldn't imagine that it could happen to my brother." Alex Botkin benefited from having a big brother like Shane Barnard. "Really close. Best friends you know since I was...forever.."

Botkin was at work when he got the news that his brother has been killed while serving in Afghanistan. Barnard was a military man, who was proud of his service and proud of his country, a man who loved his family....a man who knew it was better to give than receive. "Very loving and caring, would do you know anything for anybody.."

And it always seems that the people who are willing to care and watch out for others are the ones who end up paying the ultimate price in a war.

Which is why it's so shocking that someone as thoughtful and caring as Shane Barnard is gone.

Shane moved away from DeSmet, Alex stayed. but the two were never that far apart. "We hunted all the time when he was here when he lived here and he always made it a point to come back every year..."

Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard, 38, of De Smet died Wednesday in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he stepped on a secondary improvised explosive device.

He was assigned to the 787th Ordnance Company, 3rd Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.

"He was an awesome big brother. I always looked up to him; he was always my hero," said Alex Botkin of De Smet, Barnard's brother. "He volunteered to go over when he had already been deployed once. He loved his country."

Barnard had one of the most dangerous jobs in a war zone. Wearing an 80-pound suit, he carried out the job of defusing unexploded bombs and other live ordnance. That work was featured in the 2009 Oscar-winning film, "The Hurt Locker."

"He was always looking for new challenges," said Jim Girard, plant manager at DeSCo Architectural in De Smet. Barnard worked for the company from 2001 through 2004, and Girard also served with Barnard on De Smet's volunteer ambulance crew.

'Very easy guy to get along with'

"He was a very easy guy to get along with," Girard added. "He was a very avid hunter, he did a lot of waterfowl hunting, deer hunting - he had a Lab."

South Dakota has had 28 war deaths since May 2003, or 30 if two additional casualties are counted of soldiers who had ties to the state but are not on the official military list.

The last casualty was Staff Sgt. Leroy O. Webster, 28, of Sioux Falls, who was on his third tour of the war when he was shot to death near Kirkuk, a city north of Baghdad, in April 2009.

Webster was a professional soldier who completed two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before returning to Iraq in January 2009. He lived in Sioux Falls for 18 months between deployments.

Barnard's death marked the second time this month that an explosive ordnance disposal technician from Joint Base Lewis-McChord died in Afghanistan, according to base spokesman Joe Kubistek. On May 9, 21-year-old Spc. Wade Slack of Waterville, Maine, was killed in combat by rocket or mortar fire.

Barnard probably was working to defuse a primary explosive device when he triggered a secondary device, Kubistek said.

Improvised roadside bombs - the kind that Barnard had volunteered to defuse - caused 75 percent of all casualties among coalition forces in Afghanistan in the first two months of 2010, up from 50 percent two years ago, according to USA Today.

In 2009, there were 8,159 IED attacks on coalition soldiers in Afghanistan that killed 322 and wounded another 1,818, according to the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.

Soldier's first training was as combat medic

Barnard began his current enlistment in January 2005 in Sioux Falls and reported to Fort Knox, Ky., for basic training. He first trained as a combat medic, then was reclassified in 2007 as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in March. This was his second deployment into a war zone, the first from April to September 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"He was just a good guy to get along with, he got along with anybody," said Botkin, who added that Barnard grew up in Montana before moving to De Smet and already had served his country as a U.S. Army Ranger in the 1990s.

"He was an outstanding friend, brother and father. He was outstanding in every way."

Barnard's awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal (two awards), National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge and his Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

"On behalf of the entire Joint Base Lewis-McChord military and civilian community, we extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sergeant Barnard," Kubistek said.

In addition to his brother Alex Botkin and his mom Lois Jones, Barnard is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and three children, Ashley, 14, Trinity, 9, and D.J., 8. Funeral arrangements are pending, according to the family.

Army Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard was killed in action on 5/19/10.

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