Shawn T. Lasswell, Jr. – Corporal, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
April 26, 2006

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They died of injuries sustained in Taji, Iraq, on April 23, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during combat operations.  All three soldiers were assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:
Sergeant Robert W. Ehney, 26, of Lexington, Kentucky
Corporal Jason B. Daniel, 21, of Fort Worth, Texas

Corporal Shawn T. Lasswell Jr., 21, of Reno, Nevada

Mom can’t bury son who married in secret
Wednesday, May 3, 2006


ALTON, ILLINOIS – A U.S. soldier killed last month in Iraq apparently got married days before he was deployed without telling his mother, who’s now angry she must defer to her son’s widow — a woman she’s never met — for the funeral arrangements.

“The war already took him, and now I have him taken away again by somebody I don’t even know,” said Cathy Zehren of Las Vegas, mother of the late Corporal Shawn Lasswell, 21.

Lasswell, who grew up in Alton and whose mother wanted to have him cremated and memorialized here, was among three soldiers killed April 23, 2006, when a roadside bomb struck his Humvee near Baghdad.

Zehren said her son’s wife told her they had wed nine days after meeting. That ceremony entitles Lasswell’s wife — another soldier at Texas’ Fort Hood, where Lasswell had been stationed — ultimate say over his personal property, medals, the flag from his coffin and where he is laid to rest.

Zehren said Lasswell did not have a will, meaning posthumous decisions are made by a spouse first, the mother second. The wife has chosen to have Lasswell buried in Washington’s Arlington National Cemetery, Zehren said.

Services planned for Lasswell in this Mississippi River city will go on as planned Friday and Saturday, just without Lasswell’s remains.

The Army has declined to publicly identify Lasswell’s widow, who Zehren said wants her son’s personal items — his medals, his ribbons, his uniform — and the flag from his coffin.

The widow also gets an automatic disbursement of the military’s $100,000 death benefit. Zehren still remains the beneficiary of a $400,000 life insurance policy.

Messages left for Army and Fort Hood spokesmen seeking additional details were not immediately returned Tuesday evening. Messages left for the public relations office at the Arlington National Cemetery also were not immediately returned.

Mom angry over losing right to bury her son
May 2, 2006

Services for a US soldier killed last month in Iraq will go on as planned this week in his childhood home of Alton, Illinois — even though there'll be no body.

That's because before Corporal Shawn Lasswell was deployed to Iraq, he secretly married another soldier at Fort Hood in Texas. That gives the widow ultimate say over where 21-year-old Lasswell is buried, trumping the plans of his mother, Cathy Zehren of Las Vegas.

Zehren had planned to have her son cremated and memorialized in Alton. But her son's widow looks to have Lasswell buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The widow also gets final say over Lasswell's property, his medals and the flag from his coffin — and an automatic disbursement of the military's 100-thousand-dollar death benefit. The Army isn't identifying Lasswell's widow.

Mother, Not Wife Given Right To Decide Burial Plans For Soldier Killed In Iraq
May 2006

A Metro East mother has been given the right to decide how her soldier son should be buried. It comes after the mother and the soldier's new wife were locked in a dispute, over how to honor him.

The body of Cottage Hills native Shawn Lasswell was scheduled to arrive at Lambert International Airport late Friday night. That's far from what was going to happen before a grieving mother, Cathy Zehren, fought to bring her son home.

Those showing up to Shawn Lasswell's visitation were prepared for the worst– a service with no body. That's because the soldier's new bride made her own funeral arrangements. Those plans meant Lasswell would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

A phone call Friday morning, changed those plans dramatically. Robert Zehren is Lasswell's stepfather. He says, “I took the phone call and he asked me to see if Cathy was sitting down and I couldn't believe it.”

The caller said that Corporal Lasswell's body was on its way to Illinois. The shocking news brought an instant reaction. Cathy Zehren says, “Joy and tears because it is what his wishes were and I am glad he is coming home.”

Shawn Lasswell was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq late last month. The family has only been told that the change in funeral plans came after a meeting Friday morning between military officials.

Shawn's new wife is expected to attend the Saturday funeral service in Alton.

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