Kristopher Linwood Shepherd
Staff Sergeant, United States Army
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
February 13, 2005
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff Sergeant Kristopher L. Shepherd, 26, of Lynchburg, Virginia, died February 11, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated during clearing operations. Shepherd was assigned to the 767th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
A Lynchburg soldier killed in Iraq last week will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.
Staff Sergeant Kristopher Linwood Shepherd, 26, died February 11, 2005, after an improvised explosive device detonated during clearing operations. He was the father of two young children and a Rustburg High School graduate.
Shepherd’s wife and mother requested that he be laid to rest in the famous cemetery so that others could know of his sacrifice.
“I think he deserves to be there. He’s a hero,” said his mother, Sheila Campbell. “That way the people that don’t know him know he was there, and he would want to be buried with others that served their country.”
His uncle, Robert Campbell, said Shepherd would be honored to be buried at Arlington.
“The Army’s thing is that you never leave anyone behind. I think that had something to do with it,” he said. “I think it’s fine because now the whole world can visit with him if they choose to.”
The funeral, which will begin at 1 p.m., is open to the public.
There are several rules determining eligibility for burial at the historic site, but according to its Web site, any active duty member of the armed forces who is killed in combat is eligible.
Shepherd will join more than 260,000 people - including soldiers, Marines, Supreme Court justices and presidents - who have been buried there since the grounds were first dedicated as a military cemetery in 1864.
Veterans from all the country’s wars - from the American Revolution to the Persian Gulf War and Somalia - are interred there. It’s also home to the Tomb of the Unknowns, opened to the public in 1932 to honor the many who have died serving their country.
There also will be a memorial service for Shepherd in Lynchburg at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tree of Life Ministries on Greenview Drive.
Shepherd is the second armed forces member with Lynchburg ties to be killed in Iraq in the past month.
Sergeant Jesse Strong, 24, a 2003 Liberty University graduate, died January 26, 2005, in an ambush along with three other Marine reservists from a Lynchburg-based unit.
Shepherd’s wife, Ruby; 6-year-old daughter, Cheyenne; and 3-year-old son, Erik, will soon move back to the Hill City from Northern Virginia, Sheila Campbell said.
“She’s doing surprisingly well for the time-being,” she said of Ruby Shepherd. “She’s got those kids to think about.”
Cheyenne was a “Daddy’s girl,” who loved to go fishing with her father, Campbell said.
Ruby and Kris had known each other since they were kids, growing up across the street from each other, she said.
He had planned to buy the family a house when he returned, as well as a Bassett hound puppy he wanted to name Duke.
“When he was little he had a little yellow and white one he named Lemonade, and he loved that dog,” Campbell said. “He’s been saying for years as soon as they found a place, he was going to get one.”
Shepherd decided to join the Army when he was 17 because he thought that would be best for him and his wife, his uncle said.
Though he didn’t like to leave his family, he was happy to serve, Robert Campbell said.
“When he signed up at 18, he knew there was that chance,” he said.
After joining the Army, Shepherd started out as a mechanic before deciding he wanted to work as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist. He was based at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. and assigned to 767th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group.
Shepherd had spent April to December 2003 with his unit in Afghanistan, where his face and hands were burned in an explosion, before the unit shipped out to Iraq last month, his mother said.
“When he got hurt in Afghanistan, he begged to go back,” Robert Campbell said. “That’s just the way Kris was. He (felt he) hadn’t completed his job.
“Kris loved life. But more than life, he loved his family. Then of course, after his mom, he loved the military.”
17 February 2005:
For the second time in three weeks, the war in Iraq has claimed the life of a soldier with ties to Lynchburg. The latest victim, Army Staff Sergeant Kristopher Linwood Shepherd, 26, was a career soldier who was born here and raised near Rustburg. He was the father of two children and a graduate of Rustburg High School.
Shepherd, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, died last Friday doing what the Army had trained him to do. He was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during clearing operations.
Sergeant Jesse Strong, 24, a 2003 Liberty University graduate, was killed Janurary 26, 2005, during an ambush in Iraq along with three other Marine reservists from a Lynchburg-based unit.
Shepherd will be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery. His wife and mother requested that he be buried in the famous cemetery so that others could know of his sacrifice.
“I think he deserves to be there. He’s a hero,” said his mother, Sheila Campbell of Lynchburg. “That way, the people that don’t know him know he was there, and he would want to be buried with others that served their country.”
There will also be a memorial service for Shepherd in Lynchburg at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tree of Life Ministries on Greenview Drive.
Shepherd’s wife, Ruby, was his childhood sweetheart at Rustburg. They have two children, Cheyenne, 6, and Erik, 3. His mother said his wife and children will soon move back to Lynchburg from Northern Virginia where he had been based at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., before being sent overseas to Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Afghanistan, where he served from April to December 2003, Shepherd was burned in an explosion before his unit was transferred to Iraq in January of this year. He spent a portion of 2004 recuperating from those burns.
Judging from reports, Shepherd was a model soldier. Charles Barley is a former Rustburg resident who is retired from the Army and lives in Camden, S.C. He said Shepherd was well liked and had a good work ethic.
“He was an exceptional soldier with a positive ‘can do’ attitude. I took a liking to the kid immediately. I wish I had a dozen like him.”
Barley said he had known Shepherd since 2000. In Afghanistan, Barley said, Shepherd “rendered safe numerous devices and unexploded military ordnance left over from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.”
Offering another glimpse of the dedication he brought to his job, Shepherd’s stepfather, Robert Campbell, said when he got hurt in Afghanistan, “he begged to go back. That’s just the way Kris was. He (felt he) hadn’t completed his job.”
It’s never easy for a community to lose one of its own in a foreign war. But Sergeant Shepherd answered the call of duty and died in the course of carrying out the mission set by President Bush. We join with the community in offering prayers for his family and friends. The young soldier, who had told his mother as recently as last week that he looking forward to coming home and going fishing, will surely be missed by all those who knew him.
He served his country and he served it well. You can’t ask any more than that of a native son.
17 February 2005:
“In life, he honored the flag. In death, the flag honored him.”
With those words, a crowd of more than 100 mourners said goodbye to Lynchburg Army Sergeant Kristopher Shepherd on Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Shepherd, 26, was killed a week ago in Iraq after an improvised explosive device exploded during clearing operations.
He is the 119th soldier killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington, where his family felt he would feel honored to be laid to rest.
Shepherd’s wife, Ruby, and mother, Sheila Campbell, tightly gripped the arms of the soldiers that led each of them to the gravesite. Two rows of soldiers dressed in green uniforms snapped to attention as they passed.
Flower bouquets at the gravesite shook in the cold wind that swept through the cemetery, lined with row after row after row of identical, white headstones.
Shepherd’s children - 6-year-old Cheyenne and 3-year-old Erik - approached the gravesite hand-in-hand with a uniformed officer. As Cheyenne sat on the green folding chairs, she swung her white stockinged legs in the air. Erik couldn’t sit still and spent most of the service standing next to his sister, peering over her shoulder, as he listened to the chaplain speak.
“Today we’ve come to lay to rest another patriot who honorably and faithfully served his country,” Chaplain Kenneth Kerr told the crowd of family, friends and service members. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz also was in attendance.
The chaplains words were drowned out at times by multiple planes and helicopters that flew overhead.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me,” Kerr said, quoting Psalms 23 from the Bible. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The crowd flinched as seven soldiers standing about 50 feet away fired three shots each into the air, the traditional military salute for troops buried in the cemetery.
The mournful tune of a bugler playing “Taps” then pierced the air, the sound echoing through the cemetery.
Friends cried as soldiers crisply folded the American flag draped over Shepherd’s coffin. Major General Galen B. Jackman, commanding general of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, then knelt and presented the flag to Ruby Shepherd. He also gave her Shepherd’s Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals, awarded posthumously for his sacrifice.
Duplicate medals and another folded flag were also given to Shepherd’s mother.
The Arlington Lady, a volunteer who escorts each funeral, presented the family with a condolence card. Several servicemen shook Ruby Shepherd’s and Sheila Campbell’s hands.
Sheila Campbell said her son was a hero who deserved to be buried with others who served their country. More than 260,000 military servicemen, government officials and others are buried at the cemetery.
Shepherd, a Rustburg High School graduate, joined the Army just after he turned 18. It was a decision, his uncle Robert Campbell said, that reflected Shepherd’s desire to take care of his family.
Though he was very serious about his work with the Army, he also liked to play jokes on those he loved. Shepherd used to booby trap his mother’s car doors with pop caps that went off when she opened the door.
“He’d do anything to get you all riled up,” Campbell said.
The Army didn’t dull his humor.
“When he was in boot camp one time, he talked back to the sergeant and the sergeant put him a locker for two hours,” his mother recalled earlier this week. “I asked him, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘We don’t get any sleep here. I took a nap. It was the best nap I had all day.’”
Shepherd, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, was a member of the Fort McNair-based 767th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group. He served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. No matter where he was, he believed in his mission, his mother said.
“He loved what he was doing. He believed in our president and every time someone would say something (like) how stupid it was we were over there, I’d get so mad,” Sheila Campbell said.
“But when I told him that, he’d say, ‘Don’t
let it bother you, Mom. I’m over here to give them that choice.’”