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- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Spc. Shawn A. Muhr
Died January 29, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
26, of Coon Rapids, Iowa; assigned to the 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Jan. 29 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Spc. Joshua R. Campbell.
Muhr ‘really blossomed’ while in Army
By William Petroski
The Des Moines (Iowa) Register
COON RAPIDS, Iowa — An Iowa soldier who was killed in Afghanistan is being recalled as a top-notch athlete and a warm, generous person who loved serving his country.
Army Spc. Shawn A. Muhr, 26, of Coon Rapids died Jan. 29 when his military truck was struck by a roadside bomb, said his father, David Muhr. Also killed in the attack was Spc. Joshua R. Campbell, Defense Department officials said.
Muhr was a 2003 graduate of Coon Rapids-Bayard High School, where he wrestled and played football. He placed sixth in his weight class in the 2003 state wrestling tournament, and he held a school record for pins.
Word spread quickly through this western Iowa community of 1,300 after military casualty representatives visited the Muhr home about 6 p.m. Saturday. News of the soldier’s death was announced at Sunday worship services here.
Muhr was the 75th person with Iowa ties who has died in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zones since the Iraq war began in March 2003.
Muhr joined the Army six years ago after working for about a year at a Council Bluffs meatpacking plant.
He was a truck driver in a military transportation unit and was on a mission with a convoy of Army trucks when he was killed, family members said.
“He had found his niche in the military,” said Bill Orlano, a guidance counselor at Coon Rapids-Bayard High School. “He was really happy about being in the military and serving his country. He really blossomed there.”
Muhr was big man, standing about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing more than 200 pounds. But he was also known as an easygoing person who enjoyed a good laugh.
“He was about as ornery, happy, joking and dry-humored as they ever get,” said David Muhr, who is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and vice commander of American Legion Post 357 in Coon Rapids.
Muhr’s sister, Erica Muhr-Burris, 30, hugged her dad Monday afternoon as the family shared stories around the kitchen table about their son and brother.
“I called him biggest little brother. ... He was the happiest kid you will ever meet. He was my protector,” his sister said.
Jacob Schroeder, who was a member of the Coon Rapids-Bayard wrestling team with Muhr, sent a Facebook message to friends asking them to keep the Muhr family in their prayers.
“He was a good man, a good friend and a good American,” said Schroeder, a Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise.
“Shawn was one of those guys who would take the shirt off his own back to make you happier,” Schroeder said.
“If you wanted someone’s opinion, you could go to him and talk about what was going on. He always had a smile on his face. It didn’t matter what was going on. He looked to the best side of things,” Schroeder said.
Muhr had previously been deployed to South Korea and Iraq and was assigned to Afghanistan in October.
He came home to Coon Rapids on leave shortly after Christmas and returned to Afghanistan on Jan. 12.
He was his usual warm self while home, spending lots of time with family and enjoying himself, family members said.
Muhr was married to Winifred Olchawa and had a stepchild, Diven, relatives said.
Other survivors include his father; his mother, Shirley Muhr; a brother, Aaron; and three sisters, Muhr-Burris, Vennessa Warneka and Delinda Scheuermann.
Muhr remembered as ‘always uplifting’
By Jeff Glaze
The Des Moines (Iowa) Register
COON RAPIDS, Ia. — Army Spc. Shawn A. Muhr was remembered Feb. 6 in the high school gym where he wrestled eight years earlier.
About 600 people attended his funeral service at Coon Rapids-Bayard High School and paid their respects to the fallen soldier.
Muhr, 26, affectionately known as “Ox” by friends and family, was killed Jan. 29 in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded under his convoy vehicle. Muhr had volunteered to be a heavy truck driver — a very dangerous job.
Muhr graduated from Coon Rapids-Bayard High School in 2003 and enlisted in the Army in 2005. He placed sixth in his weight class at the 2003 state wrestling tournament and set a school record for pins.
Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson eulogized Muhr on behalf of members of the 546th Transportation Company, 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Anderson, quoting members of Muhr’s brigade who are still in Afghanistan, said: “Strong, great guy, very reliable soldier ... Larger than life, always uplifting ... Exceptional soldier, best operator, we will roll on in his honor.”
Deacon Louie Meiners of Annunciation Catholic Church in Coon Rapids urged family and friends to use Muhr’s memory to better themselves.
“Shawn will help us,” Meiners said. “He will lead us even in death. We need to take that spirit, take that memory to become a better person.”
A collection of Muhr’s favorite songs was played during the funeral, including “Ballad of the Green Berets” and Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John.”
Muhr’s body was laid to rest at Union Cemetery, east of Coon Rapids. He is survived by his wife, Wendy, and a stepson, Devin. Muhr’s parents, David Muhr and Shirley Land, also were present.
Muhr was the 75th person with Iowa ties to die in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zones since the Iraq war began in March 2003. Also killed in the explosion that claimed Muhr was Army Spc. Joshua Campbell, 22, of Bennett, Colo.
His positive outlook on life stood out
The Associated Press
Shawn Muhr didn’t join the Army right after high school. But when the 26-year-old eventually enlisted, he wound up joining a group of friends and family who’d made the military their career.
Muhr, from the small western Iowa community of Coon Rapids, graduated from Coon Rapids-Bayard High School in 2003. He worked at a meatpacking plant before enlisting in 2005, according to The Des Moines Register.
In the Army, the natural athlete seemed to flourish.
“He had found his niche in the military,” his high school guidance counselor, Bill Orlano, told the newspaper. “He really blossomed there.”
Muhr and another soldier were killed Jan. 29 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province when a homemade bomb exploded.
Friends say they’ll remember Muhr for his sunny personality.
“He always had a smile on his face. It didn’t matter what was going on,” Jacob Schroeder, a high school friend who joined the Navy, told the paper. “He looked to the best side of things.”
Muhr, who was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., had already been deployed to Iraq.
He’s survived by his wife and stepson; mother and father — an Army veteran who’s vice commander of the Coon Rapids American Legion Post; and three sisters and his brother, Aaron, who served in the Iowa National Guard.