The poet and Vietnam veteran, Jusef Komunyakaa, wrote these words that seem to capture my emotions about the men who were killed in the explosion that altered our lives. To my heroes, Adare, Matt, Shawn . . . never forgotten.
— SSG Shilo Harris
Shawn Michael Dunkin of Covington, VA, 25
Born February 27, 1981 Columbia, SC-February 19, 2007, Al-Farat, Iraq
Shawn was raised in Covington, Virginia throughout most of his life, but became a hero for the first time when he was twelve years old. He and his cousin rescued five girls from drowning on a Michigan river, and received medals for their bravery. Shawn loved to fish, camp, hunt, and snowboard. He loved sleight of hand tricks, and practiced his magic on us. Shawn was my roommate. We were best friends. He completed basic training and AIT at Fort Knox, Kentucky and planned to make the military his career. He served in Iraq in 2003, and was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal during his first rotation to the Middle East.
He is survived by his wife, Ashley, his father, Mike Dunkin and wife Janice, his mother, Darlene Kelly and husband, Donovan Kelly, his brother, David, his sisters, Erin and Tracie, and his grandmother, Arley Dunkin. When Shawn was buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the parochial school across the street from where his service was held, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, sent their students out to the schoolyard, and the children began to sing the national anthem. Church bells rang out in the city. The Patriot Guard Riders honored his service, along with many friends, family members, and strangers. Shawn had that kind of effect on people. Shawn loved the military, and his family. His mother described him: “He was just a hero.” Everyone who knew him understood that Shawn had a higher calling. A scholarship fund was established in his memory.
Matthew C. Bowe, of Coraopolis, PA, 19
Born June 17, 1987, Coraopolis, PA -February 19, 2007 Al-Farat, Iraq
Agile and athletic, Matt was a wide receiver for his high school football team. He enlisted in the Army right after graduation from Moon High School, Moon Township, Pennsylvania, in 2005. He attended basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia and AIT at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was a trauma specialist and wanted to be a doctor. Both of Matt’s grandfathers were military veterans. He was deployed as an Army medic, and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor for his heroism in saving the life of Sgt. Thomas Hewitt in an IED blast in September 2006. Hewitt lived for a week after the blast, long enough for his family to see him at Landstuhl before he passed away.
A big Steelers fan, Matt loved to sing and write songs as well. He loved to hunt and fish. At 19 years of age, Matt had already earned a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Combat Medical Badge. His high school football stadium has been renamed in his memory, and the jersey he wore so proudly, #8, has been retired from the roster at Moon High School. At 1-89 Cavalry/10th Mountain Division headquarters in Fort Drum, NY, Matt’s fellow soldiers renamed their medical bay the Private Matthew C. Bowe Memorial Aid Station.
On February 19, 2011, SFC Zul-Tan Jackson and his fellow medics placed a white carnation on the aid station door to recognize what Matt continues to mean to the soldiers of 1-89 Cavalry four years after his untimely death. Matt is survived by his parents, John and Lori Bowe of Moon Township, PA, as well as his sisters Amanda, Megan, and Tiffany, his brother, John Jr. and his grandfather. Matt’s mother remains committed to honoring Matt’s life through her advocacy for his music as well as the rights of young people who are recruited to enlist in the military.
Adare W. Cleveland of Anchorage, Alaska, 20
January 14, 1987, Ontario, Oregon–February 19, 2007, Al-Farat, Iraq
Adare, from Anchorage, Alaska, attended West High School and was active in Boy Scouts, judo, choir, and band. Always quick to help a friend, Adare loved country music and ranching. Adare joined the Army in July 2005, and attended basic training and advanced individual training (AIT) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He selected his occupational specialty in the Army’s Cavalry, as his great-grandfather and favorite uncle were cavalrymen. Adare was a gunner and dismount with Team Hellcat on Task Force Vigilant with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Interviewed in Iraq for the 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs Office, Adare told the reporter, “I love my job. I love the little children in Iraq.” Adare is survived by his mom, Dianne Cleveland, his father, William Simonds, Jr., stepmother Esther Wehr, and his sister, Maylyn Cleveland. Adare was laid to rest at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Alaska.