Monday, November 22, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Sean M. Flannery

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Sean M. Flannery, 29, of Wyomissing, Pa.

SSgt Flannery was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Nov. 22, 2010 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Army Spc. William K. Middleton.

Bronze Star recipient, 29, had also served in Iraq

A soldier from Wyomissing was killed by a roadside bomb while he was on patrol with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, his family said Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Sean M. Flannery, a squad leader, was in a vehicle on patrol Monday in Kandahar province near the Zhari District Station, where he was based, when he was killed by an improvised explosive device, according to his mother, Charlene "Charlie" Flannery.

She was notified of her son's death by two soldiers who knocked on the door of her Wyomissing home Monday.

She said the soldiers told her that a number of other soldiers were injured in the blast but that no one else was killed.

It was the 29-year-old Flannery's fourth tour of duty, his mother said, following two stints in Iraq and another in Afghanistan with both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.

Flannery, who earned the Bronze Star, had never been injured in combat. However, his mother said he had been worried in recent months as combat operations heated up in the volatile Taliban stronghold where he was stationed.

"It's been especially bad the past two months when he lost both his best friend and platoon sergeant," Charlene Flannery said. "I last talked to him on the telephone on Friday and he sounded concerned about the unit and every body's safety.

"I'm not sure if I should say this, but he told me he might not make it home."

Charlene Flannery said Sean joined the Army in 2004, a year after he graduated from Shippensburg University. He graduated from Wyomissing High School in 1999.

His father served in Vietnam.

"He was not sure what direction to take in life and thought long and hard about the Army," she said.

Her late husband and Sean's father, attorney Michael F. Flannery, was an Army veteran with the 82nd Airborne and had earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam.

"They had a little bit of a legacy here," Charlene Flannery said.

One of Sean's two younger brothers, Brian, is a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne based at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was in Afghanistan for a year and returned to the U.S. in September. On Tuesday, he was on his way home to Wyomissing.

"They both said this is a different kind of war (in Afghanistan) and was more fierce and intense; more evil," Charlene Flannery said. "The enemy has evolved in their tactics."

The mother feared for the safety of both her sons while they were in combat.

"It was a daily fear," she said. "I had angst you could not escape. I lived with it every day."

Then on Monday came the moment she had dreaded for years.

'I'm extremely proud of him'

"I kept saying to him, 'Please don't let me go to the front door and see two uniformed officers.' And that's what happened yesterday (Monday)," Charlene Flannery said.

She always ended their conversations with the warning: "Stay safe."

"He was getting fearful because the fighting was getting so fierce," she said. "But he was a very dedicated and intelligent soldier.

"I am extremely proud of him and his brother for what they've done."

Sean Flannery's body is scheduled to arrive this afternoon at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

"I hope people stop and think about the sacrifices our young men and women are making, and hopefully this war will end very soon," Charlene Flannery said. "It needs to end very soon."

She said Sean was "a wonderful young man, tall and handsome and dedicated to whatever task he took on."

He believed in the Army creed, she said, and used common sense to keep the soldiers serving under him safe.

"We don't expect to have to bury our children," Charlene Flannery said. "I expected to live to a very old age and be buried by them. I had to bury my husband seven years ago and didn't expect I'd have to do this for one of my sons."

She said support from her family, friends, neighbors, church and co-workers strengthen her. And, she said, she needs to remain strong for her two surviving sons.

Staff Sgt. Sean Michael Flannery was due home in less than a month. He was to marry Chrissy Martin of Raleigh, North Carolina over the Christmas holidays. Now, instead of a wedding, his heartbroken family is making funeral plans after Staff Sgt. Flannery and Spc. Middleton were killed by a bomb while on a foot patrol.

Staff Sgt. Sean Flannery is survived by his mother, Charlene Flannery, two brothers Sgt. Brian P. Flannery and Devin J. Flannery and fiance, Chrissy Martin of Raleigh, NC.

He was preceded in death by his father Michael F. Flannery.

Army Staff Sgt. Sean M. Flannery was killed in action on 11/22/10.

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